MGM Resorts International (MGM) will lay off 18,000 workers in the U.S. as the coronavirus continues to bear down on the casino industry, CNBC reported.

The workers, which were previously furloughed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic back in March, were notified about the layoffs in a separation letter from CEO Bill Hornbuckle obtained by CNBC. The layoffs account for almost a quarter of MGM’s 70,000 employees in the U.S.

“Nothing pains me more than delivering news like this,” Hornbuckle said in the letter. “The heart of this company is our employees and the world-class service you provide. Please know that your leadership team is working around the clock to find ways to grow our business and welcome back more of our colleagues.”

Hornbuckle continued (via Bloomberg): “While we have safely resumed operations at many of our properties and have returned tens of thousands of our colleagues to work, our industry – and country – continues to be impacted by the pandemic, and we have not returned to full operating capacity.”

MGM said laid-off employees who are recalled before the end of 2021 will retain their seniority while health benefits will be extended until Sept. 30.

The layoffs come as MGM and other casino operators in the U.S. feel the pinch of the coronavirus pandemic. The gaming industry has struggled to make a comeback amid the pandemic even as properties reopened to the public in June with safety restrictions in place.

MGM, which has a large presence on the Las Vegas Strip, said the cuts will happen nationwide. The company’s Park MGM property in Las Vegas and Empire City in New York remain closed during the pandemic.

Shares of MGM International were trading at $23.96 as of 12:56 p.m. EDT, up $1.15 or 5.04%.

The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is among those set to closer over the coronavirus pandemic The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is among those set to closer over the coronavirus pandemic Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Ethan Miller