The casino industry has long played an outsize role in Nevada politics, so it was no surprise when a former MGM executive was nominated to lead a state COVID task force.
Enter Las Vegas-based political reporter Michelle Price who used Nevada public records to report that one of the ways the state tried to secure testing kits was by leveraging former MGM chairman and CEO Jim Murren’s connections with the United Arab Emirates, which partnered with MGM to build a $9.2 billion multi-resort development in Las Vegas. Murren facilitated a donation of 250,000 Chinese-made test kits that weren’t eventually used because U.S. Homeland Security and State Department officials raised concerns about patient privacy, test accuracy and the involvement of a Chinese company that is the world’s largest genetic sequencing firm.
Summoning the AP’s reach, resources and subject matter expertise, Price partnered with Dubai-based Gulf news director Jon Gambrell to write the story about life-or-death tradecraft questions that spanned three continents. Gambrell framed the reporting around U.S. officials’ concern that foreign powers could exploit the pandemic to access medical histories and genetic traits of test takers.