Thursday, March 12, 2020 | 4:17 p.m.
On the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday evening, things appeared mostly business as usual — or as usual as things can be in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
A couple from Iowa sipped drinks outside Harrah’s, enjoying the cool weather.
“I think this is a big to-do about nothing,” said Dave Nieland, who was in town with his wife, Ronda, for a wedding and this week’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction trade show. “I’m not very worried about the virus. I think part of why this is all happening is because it’s an election year.”
Ronda Nieland said the couple plans to travel to Florida later this year and sees no reason to change.
“We’re aware of what’s going on, but we’re not going to stop living our lives,” she said.
The impact of the virus on Las Vegas, however, continues to grow.
So far, eight people in Clark County have tested positive for the virus, including a New York woman who attended a conference at a Strip resort.
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said today that Hotel and convention cancellations are up at Las Vegas resort properties due to the coronavirus.
And Las Vegas sportsbooks are sure to take a major hit from the cancellation or postponement of major sports events, including the NCAA Tournament and National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball games.
Lori Nelson-Kraft, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said room tax and gaming fee revenues — the organization collected nearly $147 million in the first six months of fiscal 2020 — are expected to drop when March figures are released, probably late next month.
Pankaj Jain, who was visiting with his wife, Monika, from India, said they were worried about the virus but didn’t let it stop their trip to Las Vegas and San Francisco.
“We weren’t going to change our lifestyle,” Pankaj Jain said. “In San Francisco, the markets, everything, were empty. Here in Vegas, people don’t seem to be very worried. I don’t see many people here wearing masks.”
At the Forum Shops mall, a worker at one store said business has been slow lately. “It’s dead everywhere,” he said.
Outside the store, Sylvia Campbell, visiting from the United Kingdom, pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and spread some on her hands, sharing with her husband, Roger.
“We’re probably doing this 10 times per day,” she said. “Yes, it’s a concern to us, but it’s up to each person how they let it affect their life.”
Her husband said everyone seems aware of the virus.
He said he was at a roulette table at the Encore Tuesday night and won $150. “I brought the chips back to the room and (Sylvia) told me I better make sure they’re wiped off. It’s how people are thinking right now,” he said.