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The casino workers' Culinary Union held a protest drive up the Las Vegas Strip Tuesday evening to call for casino companies to release their reopening plans and to adopt the union's recommended safety protocols. (May 13) AP Domestic

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LAS VEGAS – Nevada's most powerful labor union is calling for state leaders to require visitors to wear masks in all public spaces at hotel-casinos to protect workers.

"Workers have fears," said Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline in an online news conference Monday.

Argüello-Kline demanded that Nevada officials follow the lead of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that citizens now must cover their mouths and nose in most indoor settings and outdoors when social distancing isn't possible.

“The numbers are not going down," Argüello-Kline said. "They’re going up." 

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The Las Vegas Strip is slowly awakening after a nearly 80-day slumber due to the coronavirus crisis. USA TODAY

COVID-19 appears to be once again be gaining steam in Nevada.

The state reported 330 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 13,535 known cases. Health officials also reported three additional deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of people who’ve died from coronavirus to 489. 

The state’s four highest single-day increases have all been recorded within the past week, according to state data.

It's time to for hotel-casinos to require face coverings in all public places for visitors interacting with bartenders, cocktail servers, food servers, bell persons, porters, guest room attendants and cashiers, according to Argüello-Kline. 

People have died from COVID-19 in 17 Culinary Union families, she said.

Yolanda Scott, a Culinary Union coffee shop sever at Treasure Island, said only one in 10 people she sees at the casino are wearing masks.

“I want to be protected,” Scott said. “All employees deserve to be protected.”

Here’s a look at what else the labor union wants:

  • Requiring daily cleaning of guest rooms
  • Mandatory testing of all employees for COVID-19 before returning to work and regular testing thereafter 
  • Providing adequate COVID-19 PPE for employees
  • Enforcing social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures
  • Requiring guests to wear face masks in all public areas
  • Posting a COVID-19 safety plan on public-facing website

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he would also support local leaders who set stricter restrictions and encouraged business owners to mandate employees and customers to wear face masks. 

“We’re not in a post-COVID time,” Sisolak said last week. “We’re in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic. We’re right dead-smack in the middle of it.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board updated its health and safety policy for casinos last week, tightening rules for gamblers sitting down to play. 

Nevada gamblers are now required to wear face masks at table games that have no barriers. 

"Licensees must require patrons to wear face coverings at table and card games if there is no barrier, partition, or shield between the dealer and each player," the board wrote in a notice to licensees. "This requirement applies to table and card game players, spectators, and any other person within 6 feet of any table or card game." 

The update comes less than two weeks after casinos opened in Nevada following a shutdown that lasted almost three months.

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