Saturday, July 11, 2020 | 2 a.m.
As a physician and longtime member of the Southern Nevada community, I have been dismayed by the rise of coronavirus cases as the state expanded business reopenings to include casinos, bars and gyms. Dismayed, but not surprised.
I could see people ignoring social-distancing rules and recommendations to wear a mask in public. We won’t be able to reverse this upswing, even with the mandate to wear masks, until we also restrict smoking in all public indoor gathering areas. It is impossible to wear a mask while smoking. In addition, a smoker is constantly touching his or her mouth, breathes more deeply and is more likely to cough. All of these behaviors will continue to contribute to the spread of the virus.
New Jersey is prohibiting smoking, eating and drinking in its casinos as a condition for reopening. This would ensure that while gaming, customers could wear a mask and leave it in place the entire time. Eating and drinking could be restricted to private tables in restaurants and bar areas. Standing around a bar and drinking should also be prohibited.
Indoor gyms and other recreation areas are also problematic, as it is difficult to wear a mask while exercising.
Everyone is tired of staying home, but with some common sense restrictions, we could all leave our homes safely and reopen as many businesses that can safely do so. Short of this, we could be looking at a new lockdown — or worse, continuing surges in infections and deaths.