Get ready to party on The Strip

I have always enjoyed the times I have spent in Las Vegas (no drunken-blackout-lost-all-my-money disasters for me, fortunately), but I never really liked the crowds. An empty casino is depressing, but a jam-packed one, well, that’s not really my cup of tea. Give me somewhere in the middle. If you like the hustle and bustle of a hopping Vegas, however, you may very well be in luck. On Tuesday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that he is “very confident” that the state will be able to lift much of its COVID-19 protocols and “fully” reopen by June 1.

Sisolak held a press conference on Tuesday, but also tweeted out the news in a long, unnumbered thread:

Even earlier than that, Sisolak said that after conferring with health officials, the state’s social distancing mandate will be lifted on May 1. He emphasized, however, that everyone still must wear protective face coverings, saying masks are “still the best tool we have to prevent the spread.”

Nevada casinos are currently operating at 50% capacity, as per the state’s pandemic health and safety requirements.

Vaccinations are key

The governor says that he is able to relax (really, completely remove) the COVID mitigation mandates because of the vaccination progress in Nevada. According to his figures, about 40% of Nevada residents 16 years old or older have started the vaccination process and 25% are fully vaccinated. Vaccine eligibility was opened to everyone in the state 16 and up on April 5.

He added that 65% of Nevadans 60 and older and 75% of Nevadans 70 and older have at least begun the vaccination process. The higher age brackets are the most vulnerable; Sisolak said that as vaccinations have gone up, confirmed cases in those age groups have gone down, as one would expect.

Many casinos have established mass vaccination sites and/or required their employees to get the jab. Sisolak praised the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB), saying, “I am proud of @NevadaGCB efforts as they continue to work alongside casino owners, local leaders, & employee unions to set up vaccination sites on gaming properties in order to keep our workers protected & help our State recover from this pandemic.”

“A safe & responsible reopening is the path forward to bringing back our economy,” Sisolak said. “This is how we ensure NV doesn’t spend the next decade crawling forward, but instead, sprinting forward to create a better, healthier & more prosperous State for all.”

Nevada’s daily confirmed case numbers have dropped precipitously in the last few months. The seven-day moving average of new daily cases was at a near-high in early-mid January, peaking at 2,484 in a single day. That number dipped as low as 229 on March 24, though despite Sisolak’s excitement, the seven-day moving average is now at 444 as of April 13. Not anywhere close to the state’s highs, but still a large percentage jump from a few weeks ago.

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