One of the perks of having a multi-billion dollar gaming company next door during a pandemic is the fact that the company is working on the cutting edge of figuring out how to re-open with innovative solutions between now and the time that a vaccine reduces the threat of COVID-19.
In an op-ed published across the country on Oct. 1, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox detailed a new plan that is unfolding this fall at their Las Vegas resorts – one that likely would trickle over to the Everett casino in early 2021 once solidified and worked out.
Maddox announced they have been working with University Medical Center (UMC), Georgetown University and leading testing labs in New York and California. Through that, they have now formulated plans to open up their own on-site COVID-19 lab with UMC. It will deploy thousands of accurate rapid tests at a fraction of the cost – a true innovation in allowing people to feel safe and comfortable in large spaces where people routinely congregate. He said the progress in rapid testing has been amazing to watch, and Wynn has been a steady partner in realizing such testing in their industry is a bridge solution to live with COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available.
“Our lab should be finished before Thanksgiving,” he wrote of the pilot operations in Las Vegas. “Extensive research clearly indicates that what is keeping people away from Las Vegas is not so much the physical environment, which we work diligently to keep sterilized, but rather a fear of other people. We must alleviate that fear.”
He also detailed a scenario where rapid testing could allow crowds of people to come see a concert, and enjoy dinner – all with the safety of knowing no one inside is sick.
“Imagine the following: Lionel Richie is playing at the Encore Theater at 7 p.m.,” he wrote. “Between noon and 4 p.m. that day, you and your friends each provide a saliva sample at our on-property testing centers. The barcodes are scanned and you download the free UMC app and go about your day. All the information is hosted by UMC and the data is private. When the test results come back at 6 p.m., a negative test triggers a green light on the app and you can attend the show. And because the same process will apply, you can also head into a securely populated convention the following morning.”
He wrote that the science they have used shows that it takes 48 hours for someone to be communicable to others. Instead of a bubble, he said, it would be a way of allowing employees and guests to do things that right now aren’t permitted or for which people are apprehensive to participate in. He added it could be a pioneering option to not only open casinos, but also providing a model for the public schools to re-open safely.
“We are not planning on creating a full ‘Wynn bubble’ by testing everyone in every environment, but instead requiring a test for employees to work or guests to attend a show, convention, nightclub or other crowded space that exceeds the ‘mass gathering’ state mandated limits,” he wrote. “Clearly, we will need approval from the state to execute this plan, but having worked closely with leading medical experts around the country, I believe that this approach can accelerate…recovery, and not just for the Las Vegas Strip, but also to reopen our schools.
“I see recovery on the other side of this turbulent river, but patiently waiting for the waters to subside is not the most effective approach,” he continued. “Rapid tests and safe zones are the stepping stones we can use to continue to cross this river.”
Eric Kraus, spokesperson for Encore Boston Harbor, said the company is on the forefront of COVID-19 safety, and it’s something they are pioneering in Las Vegas, but could come to Everett at some point.
“Matt Maddox and Wynn are at the forefront of deploying technology to ensure safety and we are following how that progresses,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to follow Las Vegas. However, there are no plans definitively for that here yet.”