Arizona Casino Security Guard Dies, Nevada Sees One-Day Spike in COVID-19

Posted on: June 17, 2020, 11:49h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2020, 10:55h.

A security guard at an Arizona gaming property has died from coronavirus complications while employees at two other western US casinos recently tested positive for COVID-19. The cases come as neighboring Nevada saw a record one-day spike in coronavirus on Tuesday.

lina washington covid-19
Lina Washington poses with her father, Robert Washington Jr., who worked as a security guard at Arizona’s Gila River Casino Lone Butte. He recently passed away from complications associated with coronavirus. Lina Washington has expressed concern over worker safety precautions. (Image: KPNX TV)

Last week, the guard, Robert Washington Jr., who worked at Chandler, Arizona’s Gila River Casino Lone Butte, passed away from complications associated with the virus, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported.

Washington, 68, suffered from diabetes and had recovered from prostate cancer. He was undergoing treatment in an intensive care unit for coronavirus symptoms.

He returned to work last month, after casinos reopened on May 15. Robert Washington tested positive for COVID-19 on May 30, and on June 11 he died.

On Wednesday (June 17), Gila River Hotels & Casinos did not comment on requests from the Arizona Republic about the number of workers who tested positive for coronavirus.

Elsewhwere, an unnamed manager at California’s Morongo Casino Resort & Spa tested positive for coronavirus, the venue said last Friday. The employee is without symptoms and did not come into direct contact with visitors to the casino.

As a precaution, the casino is testing 11 other employees who had contact with the ill worker, reported KTLA, a California TV station. Each is asymptomatic and will remain at home until test results are released.

More COVID-19 Suspected at California Casino Than Revealed

Casino Morongo workers claim more venue employees are positive for COVID-19 than the casino is saying, KESQ, another California TV station, reported. On Monday, a spokesperson for the casino did not release an updated number for the workers who were positive for COVID-19, KESQ said.

More of our employees, our co-workers, are coming out positive and we’re not being told anything,” an unnamed worker told the station. “We knew more employees were tested positive because we know them, we work with them,” another gaming property worker said, the station reported.

“These people that they’re saying don’t have any contact with the guests — they actually come in contact with a lot of guests,” another employee claimed in an interview with the station.

The casino, which is in Cabazon, some 15 miles from Palm Springs, was closed for about two months. It resumed operations on May 22.

Also, Washington state’s Ilani Casino Resort announced one worker there tested positive for COVID-19, the Ridgefield gaming property said last Friday. The worker is getting appropriate medical care and is undergoing self-quarantine, reported KATU, a local TV station.

Workers who may have come into contact with the sick employee will get a COVID-19 test. They will be required to be at home until test results are known. Any other people who were in contact with the sick worker will be contacted.

Deceased Patient’s Daughter Wants Accountability

Robert Washington’s death in Arizona has led to concerns voiced by his daughter, Lina Washington of Sacramento, California, who works as a sports reporter.

“Someone needs to be held accountable … because it’s not just my dad. It’s going to be more people and the numbers are going up,” Lina Washington told the Arizona Republic.

This is not going to be the only case like this and this is not the only time that someone is going to lose their father because of some negligent people who don’t honor the fact that this pandemic is very real,” Lina Washington added.

Las Vegas casino workers have also expressed concern about health and safety precautions implemented recently to limit coronavirus transmission. Many Las Vegas casinos were reopened on June 4.

Two weeks after casinos resumed operations, Nevada saw the largest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases since the outbreak.

On Tuesday, Nevada saw a daily increase of 379 new cases. The prior record was 295 new cases on May 22. The Las Vegas Sun reported that Nevada has seen 467 deaths from coronavirus. More than 11,600 people have tested positive.