Casino Mogul: Vegas Strip Could Be Open by Memorial Day

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox has set his sights on what he deems the second “curve we must ‘flatten’”: Nevada’s rising unemployment from the coronavirus shutdown.

To this end, Maddox wrote an Op-Ed for The Nevada Independent on Sunday in which he discussed Wynn’s plan to reopen the state’s economy.

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Like the phased plan implemented at the federal level, Wynn’s Nevada plan includes marginal steps, focusing first on areas of lower population density.

If these areas maintain specific criteria next month, then the Vegas Strip could also reopen.

“Begin with reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings. We all need to wear a mask,” Maddox wrote in the Op-Ed.

If you’re anything like I am, you’ve always appreciated the CliffsNotes version of bulky material. In that spirit, I admired the president’s two-page “30 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines.

However, the data in the Wynn document spans across 23 pages. How might we grasp the main takeaways?

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Well, thankfully, Maddox himself sets the common denominator on the subject of testing.

“The main obstacle on the list above is widespread testing,” he wrote. “Our state, the medical community, the Task Force and resort industry leaders are focused on ways to vastly enhance testing, and I anticipate it will happen over the coming weeks.”

President Donald Trump briefed reporters Friday on the status of approved antibody tests, which has now increased to four.

“This will help us assess the number of cases that have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic,” Trump said, “and support our efforts to get Americans back to work by showing us who might have developed the wonderful, beautiful immunity.”

Maddox wrote in his Op-Ed, “In order to be able to recover and reopen in Las Vegas, this is what I believe are the right steps to take:

“1. The governor’s appointed Task Force should be focused on COVID- 19 testing capabilities and safely reopening the economy.

“2. Reopen parts of the local Nevada economy in early May. Begin with reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings. We all need to wear a mask. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable; however, it will allow our economy to reopen faster.

“3. Follow the data provided by a team of modeling experts tracking benchmarks based on the following criteria:

“a. Increases in COVID-19 testing velocity.
“b. Hospitalizations and deaths per million should not exceed the national average over any sustained period.
“c. Hospital critical care bed availability should be reserved based on a ratio of current COVID-19 patients in the event of a spike.
“d. Full transparent data should be public, web-based and accessible to anyone.

“4. Assuming in mid- to late-May we are still in line with the benchmarks, slowly begin to reopen the Las Vegas Strip with extensive safety measures in place.

“5. Monitor the data every day. If we need to, marginally pull back or move forward.”

He noted that the sections of the medical community that don’t deal directly with the coronavirus have suffered tremendous job losses.

“The hospitals need to begin elective surgeries while retaining capacity for COVID-19 patients, otherwise our healthcare system that is meant to save lives will be badly damaged,” Maddox wrote.

We witness the emotional and financial impact of COVID-19 when we see busy tourist destinations resemble ghost towns. Below, KVVU-TV provides a glimpse of an eerily empty Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas was originally set to host the 2020 NFL draft, a three-day spectacle beginning Thursday. Head coaches, general managers and prospects will now conduct a virtual draft instead.

Wynn Las Vegas continues to provide a morale boost, with messages on its buildings and an interactive social media presence.Peace and prosperity will return soon enough. The hotel’s April 12 message should serve as a rallying call for all of us.

“Hope Shines Bright.”