Nevada Newsmakers

News - March 6, 2020 - by Ray Hagar

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak could lower crowds for the upcoming NFL Draft in Las Vegas, a leading Nevada resort industry official said.

The NFL announced earlier this week that the NFL Draft would go on as scheduled in Las Vegas from April 23-25. However, it may not reach the 750,000 attendees that Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis had earlier predicted, said Virginia Valentine, president & CEO of the Nevada Resort Association.

"It may not be 750,000 people but it is still going to be a fabulous event," Valentine said on Nevada Newsmakers. "And even if it is100,000 people, it will probably be the biggest draft ever."

The record attendance for an NFL draft came in 2019 when about 600,000 people attended the event in Nashville, Tenn. The 2019 draft also attracted 47.5 TV viewers, according to the NFL.

"So we are hopeful people will still come," Valentine told host Sam Shad. "We are hopeful that the corona virus will start to abate by then. You know, April 23rd is a long way off so there is a lot that can go on. But that is going to be a very exciting event for Las Vegas, with or without the coronavirus."

Nevada's resort industry has everyday cleaning protocols that ward off germs and viruses, Valentine said. The industry's practices mirror ways that public health officials say will help stop the spread of the virus.

"I saw a person when I was waiting for my car this morning wiping down all of the door handles at a resort, and I asked him, 'Do you do this every day?' And he said yes, he did that every day.

"This is an industry that deals with protocols from food-borne-illness prevention every single day," she said. "So the hand washing, the glove wearing, the face covering, the clean aprons, the disinfection of surfaces are done every day in the resort industry," she said.

"In some ways, the protocols for food-borne illnesses are the same for the prevention of the COVID-19," she said. "So in a way, we are prepared for this."

The Las Vegas resort industry is also concerned about the potential of conventions being cancelled because of the coronavirus scare.

NXT Global, Adobe, Aruba and the Southeast Asian Nations have all cancelled upcoming conferences, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Conventions are a major part of Las Vegas' hospitality industry and many others are proceeding as planned.

"There is a concern and I think the convention industry, the resorts, need to be prepared for that," Valentine said. "We hope that it is still safe for people to come here and have conventions as planned."

The resort industry is monitoring the advice from public health officials, Valentine said.

"We take our lead from the experts because it is very unpredictable," she said. "We don't know if it (corona virus) is going to breakout. The incidents are starting to decline in China and we will reach that point in the US where the reports are lower each day.

"In the meantime we await direction from the federal government and the CDC. The Washoe County Health District and the Southern Nevada District have done a great job. The governor's office has all of the emergency preparedness people ready to go, so we take our direction from them.

"In the meantime, it is business as usual for us," she said.