With Delta Variant On the Rise, Doctor Answers Questions about Masking at Casinos and the Odds COVID Will End

Posted By Katie Kohler on August 9, 2021

With the Delta variant on the rise, will it cause Pennsylvania casinos to close or restrictions to return? Pennsylvania’s mask mandate which was put into place in April 2020, ended on June 28, 2021.

In late July, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak reinstalled the state’s mask mandate in counties with “substantial or high transmission.” That means masks are back at Las Vegas casinos.

On March 16, 2020, PlayPennsylvania wrote:

The coronavirus has caused great uncertainty and plenty of questions. It’s natural to have questions as to why this is happening, what it means and when things will get back to normal.

Seventeen months later we still have questions. Although casinos aren’t closed and the sports world isn’t shut down, we still have questions about health and safety. Dr. Christopher Drumm with the Einstein Medical Network in the Greater Philadelphia area, provided insight.

Pennsylvania casinos open

All Pennsylvania casinos are open, drink service has returned and smoking is permitted again.

Mask sign at Valley Forge Casino.

During a visit to Valley Forge Casino on Sunday.a sign at the entrance said:

All guests are recommended to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. This includes both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board does have the authority to close a casino to public health or other safety concerns. However, there are currently no plans to close Pennsylvania casinos.

PGCB Director of Communication Doug Harbach said:

“For the most part, what we are seeing and what is working is a collaborative effort between the health professionals, the casinos, and the gaming board to make decisions on issues like masks and smoking.”

Doctor answers questions about Delta variant

Dr. Drumm is affiliated with Einstein’s Norristown Family Practice. He also is the co-host of the podcast “Doc and and the Deacon” with Peter McKenney is a lay leader at a Free Methodist evangelical church. The pair, like the intro rap indicates, talk about everything from “poop to the Pope.”

No one at PlayPennsylvania has a medical degree so we turned to the doctor to answer questions.

What is the Delta variant?

Drumm: The coronavirus has different spike proteins.  The virus can mutate and change slightly. The newest strain that has been spreading and being found more commonly is this variant. The Delta Variant also referred to as B.1.617.2 is thought to be more contagious. It is thought to create a higher viral load. Having a higher viral load means that it is more easily spread from person to person. It also may be more likely to cause severe disease but this is still yet to be determined.  

If you are not vaccinated, why should you care about the Delta variant?

Drumm: The Delta variant is spreading quickly and may be more contagious. For those that are unvaccinated you have the risk of getting more severe illness. Also it appears that patients with the Delta variant infect 3-4 other people. It is causing higher viral loads and is spread quickly.  

If you are vaccinated, why should you care about the Delta variant?

Drumm: Vaccinated patients are still at risk for COVID. The vaccine still helps protect from severe disease but no vaccine is 100%.  A large exposure to the virus can overpower the antibodies created by the vaccine. The biggest risk to vaccinated people is unvaccinated people. The next risk is the Delta variant. I am more scared of the unvaccinated than I am of the delta variant.  

Should people get vaccinated?

Drumm: I want everyone to get vaccinated. People keep arguing that these vaccines are experimental. They are not.  At this time over 4.1 billion vaccines have been given throughout the world. That is even more than the dollars that we paid Bryce Harper. He only got $330 million. We have given 4.1 billion vaccines. If we were to weigh the pros and cons Vegas would put all their money on vaccines.  

What comes after the delta variant? When will coronavirus be over?

Drumm: I really do not know when this will be over. We are still in a much better place than we were six months ago.  Lambda variant is next but this virus will continue to mutate until we can try and hit herd immunity.  There are a lot of Greek letters and I hope we do not have to use them all. 

Mask wearing at casinos at stadiums

Should I wear a mask indoors at the casino?

Drumm: The CDC is back to recommending both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors. Luckily, here in Pennsylvania we are doing a better job than some other states in keeping the numbers lower. I do not see any downside to wearing a mask. I have a terrible poker face and will likely wear a mask while playing Texas Hold Em forever to increase my chances of winning a hand.  

I’m really excited to go back to Lincoln Financial Field and watch the Eagles. Should I wear a mask there?

Drumm: It depends on the numbers we are seeing in the next few weeks. But with the poor vaccination rates in Texas you should definitely wear a mask when the Cowboys come to play. We do not need other reasons to hate the Cowboys fans but we know one of them is going to come up here and bring COVID to our city while wearing a Tony Romo jersey.  

Do you think I should wear a mask at the Wells Fargo Center when I go to the Sixers season opener?

Drumm: If the stadium is filled to capacity then I would wear a mask until the numbers start to go down.  I may also have to get a blindfold if Mr Ben Simmons does not learn how to shoot.  I trust the process. I also trust the CDC.  Two things we should all appreciate are vaccines and Joel Embiid.  

Lead image John Locher/AP.

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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist. She is the Managing Editor at PlayPennsylvania and covers the Pennsylvania gambling industry with an emphasis on sports betting, online casino/poker and the lottery.

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