LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Wynn Resorts says it is working towards having its own testing lab for COVID-19 in an attempt to bring large events back to the resort before a vaccine is developed.
Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox outlined his plan in an op-ed published by The Nevada Independent. The resort sent that op-ed to local media on Thursday morning. Here is part of it:
So how do we come back?
For months, we have been working with University Medical Center (UMC), Georgetown University and leading labs in California and New York to study technology that can rapidly and rigorously test thousands of people in a matter of hours. The progress in rapid testing has been incredible to witness and we are now in the process of building an on-site lab with UMC at Wynn Las Vegas to deploy thousands of accurate rapid tests daily at a fraction of the current cost.
It’s important to note that our UMC/Wynn lab will offer the most sensitive and accurate test available in the United States utilizing FDA approved “gold standard” PCR technology, and we are talking to UNLV to track and analyze the results. Our lab should be finished before Thanksgiving. Extensive research clearly indicates that what is keeping people away from Las Vegas is not so much the physical environment, which we work diligently to keep sterilized, but rather a fear of other people. We must alleviate that fear.
Imagine the following: Lionel Richie is playing at the Encore Theater at 7pm. Between 12pm and 4pm that day, you and your friends each provide a saliva sample at our on-property testing centers. The barcodes are scanned and you download the free UMC app and go about your day. All the information is hosted by UMC and the data is private. When the test results come back at 6pm, a negative test triggers a green light on the app and you can attend the show. And because the same process will apply, you can also head into a securely populated convention the following morning.
If, by chance, someone is infected after they take the test, science tells us that it takes approximately 48 hours for that person to become communicable. We are not planning on creating a full “Wynn bubble” by testing everyone in every environment, but instead requiring a test for employees to work or guests to attend a show, convention, nightclub or other crowded space that exceeds the “mass gathering” state mandated limits. Clearly, we will need approval from the state to execute this plan, but having worked closely with leading medical experts around the country, I believe that this approach can accelerate Nevada’s recovery, and not just for the Las Vegas Strip, but also to reopen our schools.
Nothing in life is 100% safe but establishing these safe zones by testing thousands of people per day with the PCR test, dramatically mitigates the danger of community spread and, with empirical evidence and careful execution, will work. The probability of a contagious COVID carrier entering a “safe zone” is less than one-tenth of 1%.
I do hope a vaccine will be available and widely adopted soon, but we can’t wait. We want Nevadans back to work and our kids back to school. We owe these efforts to our visitors and to the citizens of Las Vegas whose lives and futures depend on Las Vegas attracting millions of tourists and getting back to the business of fun.
I see recovery on the other side of this turbulent river, but patiently waiting for the waters to subside is not the most effective approach. Rapid tests and safe zones are the stepping stones we can use to continue to cross this river.