NEAR CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - About a month after a security guard who worked at Gila River Casino died due to COVID-19, all three of the Gila River casinos are set to reopen on Thursday.
Officials said Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva went through the "implementation of enhanced safety procedures and health protocols" before being allowed to be back open to customers. Some of those measures include no smoking, testing staff every two weeks for the coronavirus, mandatory masks for all workers and guests and plexiglass between slot machines. The casino will also be closed from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. for deep cleaning. Gila River Gaming Enterprise’s Inc. said it received guidance for the reopening plan from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Gila River Indian Community.
Gila River Hotels and Casinos confirmed Thursday morning that has closed its Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva locations for two weeks “to reassess its current safety standards.”
The three casinos closed on June 18, a couple of days after the story was made public about Robert Washington, who worked at Lone Butte as a security guard and died because of the coronavirus. His family says he went back to work in mid-May following the shutdown so he could afford insulin for his diabetes. On May 30, he tested positive for COVID-19 and days later, he was in the intensive care unit and died.
“He was absolutely fearful for his future. There was no social distancing as he explained to me, there was no active sanitation,” she said.
Gila River Hotels and Casinos did not mention Washington’s death in connection with its decision to close in June. One of the health measures the casinos are taking is providing paid leave of absence for at-risk team members. The casinos said they would update their safety protocols and procedures as necessary. The full list of their new measures can be read below.
- Non-smoking at all properties with designated smoking areas
- Casino will close from 2 a.m.-10 a.m. daily for deep-cleaning
- Providing paid leave of absence for at risk team members
- COVID-19 testing for team members every two weeks
- Mandatory temperature checks for team members and guests upon arrival
- Mandatory face coverings/masks for all team members and guests
- Extensive disinfection procedures
- Best available training to protect workers and all visitors
- Guests will be advised to practice physical distancing
- Casino floors and gaming tables have been redesigned to ensure physical distancing and reduced occupancy
- Plexiglass separation enhancements on slot machines
- 100 total Sanitation Stations on gaming floor and back of house with bright green signage
- New “Cleaning Alert System” on all slots – allows you to alert a cleaning ambassador if you would like your slot machine cleaned
- Increased cleaning ambassador team members
- External cleaning company Landcorp. deep-cleaned all properties including back of house team member areas
- Ongoing training for continuous and rigorous sanitation measures as best practices evolve