San Diego Tribal Casinos refute report blaming them of spreading COVID-19

San Diego Tribal Casinos refute report blaming them of spreading COVID-19

Operators of tribal casinos in San Diego County, California, have disputed a recent report that slammed the tribal gaming facilities for allowing the potentially deadly COVID-19 infection to spread throughout the area.
San Diego County’s seven tribal casinos have been criticized by not-for-profit media organization KPBS. The non-profit organization owned by San Diego State University stated in a report that at least 638 positive cases of coronavirus were diagnosed since June had links to tribal gaming facilities in the area.

According to KPBS report, Viejas Casino & Resort is responsible for at least 166 cases of COVID-19, while Cases of Sycuan Casino & Resort, Barona Resort & Casino and Jamul Casino facilitated 155 cases, 102 cases and 91 cases, respectively. Harrah’s Resort Southern California and Valley View Casino Hotel have been blamed for 57 and 45 cases of COVID-19, while Pala Casino Spa & Resort has been accused of facilitating 22 cases.

Dr. Christian Ramers, a specialist in infectious diseases at San Diego State University, stressed that the ongoing transmission of the deadly virus in the aforementioned settings was a matter of serious concern. He warned that health authorities would not be able to control the pandemic if gaming facilities would keep on facilitating the virus.

The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) links a corona case to a specific location if the infected individual had been in that specific area within a couple of weeks of being tested positive.
However, tribal officials rejected the report and argued that they their gaming facilities put all required measures in place to ensure the safety of guests as well as team members.

Viejas Casino & Resort officials said in a statement, “We notified KPBS that only a few COVID-19 positive cases have been directly tied to Viejas. Those few cases related to a single exposure several months ago among a small group of team members in a non-public office space. Unfortunately, KPBS chose to withhold that information from its article. It is the safest casino on earth.”

Tribal casinos in San Diego County had voluntarily suspended gaming operations and closed their doors in March to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. But, they started reopening against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wish as early as May, when the threat of the deadly virus was still looming. It may be noted here that tribal casinos can’t be forced to follow state governor’s orders as they enjoy special status under their agreements with the federal government.