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High volume of visitors in Las Vegas raises health concerns for travelers

High volume of visitors in Las Vegas raises health concerns for travelers
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 13:59:49-04

Last month, nearly 5 million people traveled through Harry Reid International Airport — a record number of passengers coming in and out of Las Vegas.

Many in the valley are concerned we may see an increase of monkeypox or COVID-19 cases with the large volume of visitors. Tourists like Shaun Lassiter are preparing to take a risk.

"With there being so many people from all over the world, you want to protect yourself as much as you can," Lassiter said.

With COVID variants spreading and monkeypox becoming a threat, international travelers like Jasmine Stannard from Australia are being extra careful.

"It is scary, because when COVID came out in Australia, we didn't have many cases when they were high in the United States, so my concern is getting here and taking it home," Stannard said.

Lassiter and Stannard arrived in Las Vegas during a busy time. More than 4.6 million passengers flew in and out of Reid International in June, making it the airport's busiest month in history.

Airport spokesperson Joe Rajchel says July could be another month for the books.

"We had that three-day weekend for the Fourth, we had a couple of big events at Allegiant Stadium, a lot of big soccer matches, and one more day in July than in June,” Rajchel said.

More travelers could mean more worries for locals concerned about catching COVID or monkeypox. Dr. Brian Labus, infectious disease expert at UNLV, says people shouldn't be alarmed. Las Vegas is not considered at higher risk than other places, Labus noted.

"People don't often travel when they are sick, so if they are currently sick with COVID they are not traveling to Las Vegas," Labus said. "If they are sick with monkeypox, they are probably going to postpone their trip."

Labus says people normally spend about three-and-a-half days in Vegas, so by the time they get sick and spread the disease, they are already gone.

“It comes down to what your behaviors are. If those change, then you can be at higher risk,” Labus said.