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Two recent 'positives' at Foxwoods among few COVID-19 cases at casinos

Two members of the union representing table-games dealers at Foxwoods Resort Casino recently tested positive for COVID-19, the casino acknowledged Tuesday, the first cases reported among Foxwoods employees in about two months.

Mohegan Sun has had “a small number” of cases among its employees since July, the casino’s top executive said Tuesday.

In a weekend posting on its website, the Foxwoods dealers’ union, Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers, said it had learned that two of its members had tested positive for the coronavirus disease: one working a day shift and one working a swing shift. The union said it immediately notified management and began “to aid in the contact tracing process.”

“Our affected members have graciously aided in this process by providing names of those they have come in contact with for more than 15 minutes so that we can have management contact them so they can self-quarantine if deemed appropriate,” the union said.

Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ interim chief executive officer, confirmed the union’s account.

“Two Foxwoods team members in question recently tested positive for the (COVID-19) virus, quickly triggering our well-established health protocols that include contact tracing and quarantine of anyone who met the CDC definition of close contact,” Guyot said, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We remain committed to ensuring a safe work place for our team members and guests,” he said. “That includes 24/7 sanitization of the resort, wellness checks for team members before each shift and a plan for 14-day quarantine and retesting of any employees who test positive or are determined to be a close contact. All guests are given temperature checks at entry and are required to wear masks and to social distance while at Foxwoods.”

“Our health record since reopening in June has been very positive. We have revised and updated protocols as science has evolved,” Guyot added. 

On its website, the Foxwoods dealers' union says it has asked management to begin "an employee testing protocol" to address the growing number of asymptomatic positive tests and prevent others from becoming infected. It says a Foxwoods official indicated management has been working with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's chief medical officer and infectious diseases experts on developing a testing strategy. The tribe owns the casino.

"The Union is cautiously optimistic that the employer will do the right thing and provide testing for all employees to provide a safer working environment," the union said.

Foxwoods announced July 29 that one of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19 two days earlier, prompting contact tracing and the quarantining of co-workers who had come in close contact with the employee. A week earlier, Mohegan Sun had announced that an employee had tested positive in early July and that two of the employee’s co-workers tested positive during subsequent contact tracing.

Before Tuesday, neither casino had announced any additional COVID-19 cases among employees or patrons.

“We have had a small number of additional COVID-19 cases since July, but through our comprehensive health and safety plans, led by the Mohegan Tribal Health Department, swift action and precautions were taken,” Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said Tuesday in a statement. “We continue to be extremely vigilant when it comes to health and safety for all of our guests and team members.”

Both casinos reopened June 1 after being shut down for 11 weeks. Some of their offerings and amenities, including theaters, buffets and poker rooms, remain closed.

The governor's office reported that the state has seen 57,329 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday evening, an increase of 182 from data reported Monday. Two additional related deaths reported in that 24-hour period brought the state's total to 4,505 since the pandemic began; 17 more people were hospitalized with the disease in that period, bringing the total to 92. With 10,380 more tests reported from Monday to Tuesday, 1,579,182 tests have been reported so far.

In New London County, 1,917 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported so far as of Tuesday evening, an increase of 35 from the previous day; probable cases remained the same at 77. Confirmed and probable related deaths remained the same, at 87 and 28, respectively, while hospitalizations decreased by one to 13.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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