LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Data collected from contact tracing interviews points to hotels and food establishments as potential COVID-19 exposure locations, listing the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as the top site that interviewees said they had visited before testing positive.
Voluntary contact tracing interviews conducted by the Southern Nevada Health District between June 1 and July 13 found that 38% of respondents were possibly exposed at a hotel, 20% at a food establishment and 14% at a clinic or doctors office. After conducting more than 12,000 voluntary contact tracing interviews in August, the Cosmopolitan has been listed as the most common location for interviewees to report visiting before they tested positive, followed by the Bellagio and the MGM Grand Hotel.
The top five establishments most frequently referenced in contact tracing interviews were hotels, with Clark County Detention Center and Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona making the top ten.
In accordance with federal guidance, contact tracing interviewers in Nevada ask questions related to how the individual may have contracted COVID-19 and who they may have exposed after their infection. They also ask about sites such as the individual’s worksite, businesses the individual may have visited, or events attended. A location identified through contact tracing could present a high number of cases if it offers routine employee testing, compared to locations that do not offer employee testing.
Nevada health officials say the data collected from contact tracing is used to identify possible risks associated with exposure, contacts who may have also been exposed to the illness, opportunities to intervene or prevent further spread, and disparities related to those risks, such as occupational risk, racial or ethnic disparities or geographic disparities.
The Southern Nevada Health District on Friday released a statement saying that contact tracing data does not identify locations where cases were determined to be exposed, nor does it indicate "clusters of COVID-19" in the community. The health district also emphasized that places with more foot traffic or more employees may be reported as possible exposure locations more often.
A spokesperson for the Cosmopolitan provided the following statement:
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our guests and employees. As stated by Nevada health officials, the data pertaining to potential exposure locations does not conclusively represent where or when an individual contracted COVID-19. The data merely reflects what locations the individuals recall visiting during a certain period of time.”
An MGM Resorts spokesperson provided the following statement:
“Since reopening, MGM has been aggressively encouraging, and in many instances requiring, employees to be tested. The positivity rate among our employees has almost consistently been below the positivity rate for the surrounding community since reopening. The nature of this pandemic is that it is not possible to determine where or when an individual contracts the virus but we have been consistently reporting known cases involving an employee or guest, to the state health department."
Deputy Administrator for the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health Julia Peek said on Thursday that more than 25% of all COVID-19 cases have been identified through contact tracing.
Contact tracing data from Nevada health officials can be viewed here: