The family of a Caesars Palace employee who died after contracting coronavirus blames the Las Vegas casino for forcing him to return to work and failing to protect him and others on the job from the virus.
Adolfo Fernandez, 51, died on Wednesday at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas – just two days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
His family told KVVU-TV that Fernandez worked as a utility porter and a member of the Culinary Union Local 226.
Fernandez’s daughter, Irma, works as a housekeeper at the Venetian, another casino located on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
She expressed anger on Friday over what she says was the failure of Caesars to protect her father.
Adolfo Fernandez, 51, died on Wednesday at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas – just two days after he was diagnosed with COVID-19
His family said he worked as a utility porter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday and died in a hospital just two days later
‘I am going to fight for justice because he told me constantly that they are not using the correct safety precautions at work,’ Fernandez said.
‘They are not protecting their employees.’
Caesars Entertainment, the parent company which runs Caesars Palace and other Las Vegas resorts, confirmed this weekend that one of its employees died of COVID-19.
‘Sadly, we can confirm that one of our colleagues has passed away after testing positive for COVID-19,’ the statement read.
‘We are heartbroken by this development and are expressing our deepest sympathies to their family and friends.
‘While we have not been able to determine how the employee contracted the virus, once the employee informed us about testing positive, the company implemented its protocols to determine who had been in close proximity with this individual at the direction of the Southern Nevada Health District.
‘As a result, a small number of employees were identified to be in this category and are now on paid leave while self-isolating.
‘None of these individuals, to our knowledge, have tested positive at this time.
‘They will not return to work until they obtain a negative test result.’
Irma Fernandez said her father suffered from a severe case of work-related stress.
After returning to work, he started to complain of body aches. Eventually, he contracted coronavirus, which then attacked vital organs.
‘Little by little he was fading away,’ she said. ‘His death was so painful.’
Caesars Palace on Wednesday implemented a police requiring guests at its casinos and resorts to wear masks. A face mask is seen above being worn by the statue of Julius Caesar at the entrance to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Thursday
Guests arrived at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip after the property opened for the first time in 78 days on June 4. They were met with a new look casino with new health and safety measures
Irma said her father suffered two cardiac arrests after testing positive. She said her father was concerned about returning to work, but felt he had little choice since his priority was to provide for his family.
‘He was exposed during his daily routine at work at Caesars Palace,’ Fernandez said.
‘He did it to support his family. He was a great dad and a great hardworking man.
‘A big-hearted human. And my dad, he fought hard.’
After her father fell ill with COVID-19, others in the family were also exposed.
According to Irma Fernandez, her mother tested positive for COVID-19, as has her cousin.
She said she has moved her kids to a hotel as a precaution.
‘It came to my house and infected my family members,’ Fernandez said.
‘I don’t want to lose both of my parents.’
The Culinary Workers Union, a 60,000-member strong organization that represents employees at casinos, hotels, and restaurants in Las Vegas and Reno, said that it plans to file a lawsuit on Monday against ‘major Las Vegas Strip casino companies.’
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the union will allege in its court filing that local casinos have failed to adequately protect workers from the coronavirus.
The union told the Review-Journal that ‘the current rules and procedures in place for responding to workers contracting COVID-19 have been wholly and dangerously inadequate.’
Union officials plan to hold a virtual news conference on Monday, where they are expected to tell the public which companies it plans to sue.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (seen above in Carson City on Wednesday) bowed to public pressure and issued a mandate last week requiring state residents to wear a face mask when in public. The order went into effect on Friday
Irma Fernandez said she plans to speak at the event.
On the same day that her father died, Caesars announced that it would require all guests at its casinos and other resorts throughout the United States to wear face masks to help counter the spread of the coronavirus.
The company said that anyone who refuses to wear a mask will be asked to leave the property.
The company had previously mandated guests at its Las Vegas casinos wear masks only at table games that did not have barriers, in accordance with rules set by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Crowds of people flocked the casinos in Las Vegas on June 4 after 78 days of shutdown.
The public was allowed back into the venues, which were transformed by new health and safety measures to combat the spread of the virus.
All staff wore masks or face shields as they returned for the first time since March 18 and gamblers were stationed further apart at tables as part of the new protocol.
Many casinos have also constructed glass partitions between slot machines and gamblers at tables to keep them apart and in certain hotels guests were required to take a temperature check before they entered.
Nevada on Saturday reported a record daily increase of additional confirmed COVID-19 cases.
But health officials later said the bulge largely resulted from laboratory data entry errors that delayed the posting of hundreds of cases from two previous days.
The state Department of Health and Human Services reported an additional confirmed 1,099 cases, mostly from metro Las Vegas.
The number of additional cases reported Saturday was more than double the previous record of 507 reported Thursday.
But the Southern Nevada Health Agency said the reported daily increase included over 600 cases that should have been reported earlier in the week but were not.
The additional 1,099 cases reported Saturday raised the state’s total to 16,339 with 500 deaths, including two newly reported on Saturday.
Clark County accounted for 88 per cent of the additional confirmed cases reported Saturday. The county accounts for 81 per cent of the state’s reported overall case total.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Nevada’s Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak finally bowed to pressure last week and issued a mandatory order for state residents to wear face masks in public.
‘This is a state that prides itself on the spirit of individualism,’ Sisolak said in a press conference on Wednesday. The order went into effect on Friday.
‘It is part of what makes us great.
‘So I’m asking all of us to take our independent spirit and turn that into our individual responsibility to keep the lights on for businesses throughout our state.’
The governor added: ‘As I said last week, we’re not post COVID. We’re still in the middle of the first phase, the first wave of COVID.
‘So please, I cannot emphasize this enough, wear your face covering anytime you leave your house, when you go to a restaurant, and you stop at the pharmacy, when you enter a casino.
‘Wear your face covering.’