Virus Outbreak Nevada

Signs on casinos hint at their closing along the Las Vegas Strip mostly devoid of the usual crowds after casinos have been ordered to shut down due to the new coronavirus, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A former Marine intelligence officer who was part of the team that did the baseline training for North American military pandemic preparedness said Las Vegas could become the destination for people looking stay healthy while traveling.

"I've done training that's involved pretty much every major property in Las Vegas,” former Lt. Col. Hal Kempfer said. “I've done training extensively with Las Vegas [Metropolitan Police Department] and the Homeland Security Fusion Center in Las Vegas."

FOX5 talked to him about the strengths and weaknesses of Las Vegas moving forward amid the pandemic compared to other American cities.

He said the most apparent disadvantage is the same reason most people come to Las Vegas in the first place.

"So much of Las Vegas is based on going to some place with large groups of people and doing something in close proximity to others,” he said. “Whether it's gambling, or going to shows, or nightclubs or even out to dinner."

He said the casinos already do a good job of approaching public safety as a collective issue and this pandemic can't be any different. He said people need to feel confident they can come to Las Vegas without getting sick.

"The strength of Las Vegas is really more geographic than anything else. It sits in the desert," Kempfer said. "Las Vegas has a built-in advantage in that it's possible to contain Las Vegas - put a heavy screening and testing protocol in place - not just for visitors but also those working in the industry where they will be in contact with visitors to make sure, basically, Las Vegas is safe and that people are testing negative.”

“That doesn't mean you get rid of all the prophylaxis and protocols for masks and everything else, but what it does is it dramatically decreases the chance that someone would catch coronavirus or transmit coronavirus by putting in these layers of protection,” he said.

“Effectively you could get to a point where going to Las Vegas poses little more risk than staying at home,” he said. “Once you get to that level Las Vegas becomes the destination for people who want to get away and do things. And if you want to hold a conference or convention, Las Vegas has an advantage over any other place because of that basic safety factor."

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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