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Covid, Monkeypox, Now Las Vegas Strip Faces a ‘Superbug’

The tenuous Las Vegas Strip recovery has survived covid resurgences, monkeypox, and RSV. Now it’s facing something worse.



The tenuous Las Vegas Strip recovery has survived covid resurgences, monkeypox, and RSV. Now it's facing something worse.

In some ways, Las Vegas has been like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Freddy Krueger. No matter how many blows it takes, or how dead it seems, the city rises back stronger than before.

Covid seemed like a final battle for Sin City, The virus did the unthinkable in forcing the Las Vegas Strip to close, ending tourism, and carrying a long shadow that canceled conventions, while keeping older as well as international travelers away.

In many ways, the big Las Vegas Strip operators -- Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Free Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Free Report, and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Free Report -- absorbed what should have been death blows without even shrugging. Yes, they all had to close for a period and deal with many months of limited crowds.

It was a terrible period, but Las Vegas, specifically the Las Vegas Strip has proven resilient. The comeback has been steady with regular tourists returning and some massive events including multiple BTS stadium shows and the NFL Draft packing the city to pre-pandemic levels.

Business travel, international visitors, and even senior citizen customers have come back and a huge lineup of major sporting events and conventions should deliver record business in 2023.

Las Vegas faced down covid and has recently managed to keep visitor counts on the rise despite the rampant spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). That easily-spread disease pushed pediatric wards to the brink while also spreading among tourists, but it has not discouraged visitors.

Now, a new health threat has risen that's even more deadly which could impact the Las Vegas Strip comeback.

Image source: Palms Casino

Las Vegas May Have a 'Superbug" Problem 

Las Vegas has more exposure to illness than nearly any place in the world because it hosts an ever-revolving cast of tourists from around the world. It then takes those visitors and puts them into crowded areas with recirculated air. It's a sort of perfect recipe for diseases to spread quickly.

Now, Las Vegas has seen an increase in the "once-rare “superbug” Candida auris," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.  "Cases have climbed to 600 in Southern Nevada, with more than one-third identified at just two hospitals."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has identified Candida auris, which it describes as "an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat." It noted that the fungus is often multidrug-resistant and that it can be difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods. Candida auris, sometimes called C. Auris, can also spread quickly in hospitals because it's hard to identify and can often be misdiagnosed.

Candida auris can cause bloodstream infections and it is sometimes fatal.

"Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, the largest general acute-care hospital in the state, has reported 122 cases of the drug-resistant fungus, the most of any hospital or skilled nursing facility," the Review Journal reported. "...Horizon Specialty Hospital Las Vegas reported 95, the second-highest number, according to state data as of Oct. 24. Thirty-three medical facilities have now reported cases."

Sixty-three people have died in Nevada from the "Superbug."

Las Vegas Has Been Resilient

Las Vegas has built back its business to near-2019 pre-pandemic levels, according to statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

"September saw strong visitation of 3.35M visitors, just ‐3.5% behind September 2019...
Overall hotel occupancy reached 83.1%, +10.1 pts ahead of last September but down ‐5.2 pts vs. September 2019. Weekend occupancy reached 92.1% (up +3.0 pts YoY but down ‐3.5 pts vs. September 2019), while midweek occupancy reached 78.6% (up +12.5 pts YoY but down ‐6.5 pts vs. September 2019)," the LVCVA reported.

Visitor volume and hotel occupancy have steadily climbed since last September.

The "superbug" likely won't derail any major Las Vegas Strip tourism plans unless it becomes a more pressing national health crisis. That happened in 2022 when news about the fast-spreading omicron covid variant gutted the Consumer Electronics Show -- one of Las Vegas's largest conventions -- with major companies pulling out more for optics, than due to any real health concerns.

Las Vegas remains vulnerable to that and a spreading "superbug" is something the city's major players will all be keeping an eye on.  

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