Gila River Hotels and Casinos closes 3 locations amid Arizona’s COVID-19 spike

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Gila River Hotels and Casinos confirmed Thursday morning that it has closed its Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva locations for two weeks “to reassess its current safety standards.”

The casinos shut down at 2 a.m. Thursday.

“The enterprise will use this closure to see whether the recent rise in Arizona COVID cases subsides and to re-examine every aspect of its operation,” explains a news release from Gila River Hotels & Casinos. “The decision came after a careful evaluation of the growing enterprise’s current safety plan with the Gila River Indian Community Council and feedback from its community and team members.”

The casinos reopened on May 15 after Arizona’s month-long stay-at-home order expired.

The family of a man who worked as a security guard at Lone Butte said he tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks later. Robert Washington, who survived cancer and was dealing with diabetes, died of the disease last week.

According to his family, he was afraid to go back to work but felt he had no choice because he had to work to afford his insulin. “He was absolutely fearful for his future,” Washington’s daughter told Arizona’s Family earlier this week. “There was no social distancing as he explained to me, there was no active sanitation.”

Gila River Hotels & Casinos did not mention Washington’s death in connection with its decision to close. The company said it will pay its employees and continue to provide health benefits during the closure.

Desert Diamond closes one location

Desert Diamond Casinos also announced the temporary closure of its Casino in Why, Arizona, after an employee test positive for COVID-19. Desert Diamond Casinos described the decision as a “precautionary closure.” It did not say how long the Why casino would be closed. No other Desert Diamond  locations are affected.

Mask Up Arizona

Just yesterday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that Arizona’s individual cities and towns could implement and enforce face mask policies. While wearing a face mask while in public is not mandated at the state level, Ducey did encourage the public to do so. 

“You are most safe at home,” Ducey said. “If you do go out, wear a mask. It’s the smart thing to do.”

Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said it’s critical for people to wear masks because of the risk posed by asymptomatic spread, which is when people may have the virus but do not show symptoms. 

COVID-19 spike

Arizona has seen a spike in coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, AZDHS reported a single-day record of nearly 2,400 cases. We broke that record Thursday with more than 2,500 new cases reported.

The state crossed the 40,000 mark Wednesday, just a week after AZDHS reported a total of 30,000 COVID-19 cases statewide. That total number has been increasing by more than 1,000 reports cases per day for more than a week.

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