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Ilani Casino employee tests positive for COVID-19

Health officials said the infected employee is isolating at home for two weeks while they search for possible exposures.

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — An Ilani Casino employee tested positive for COVID-19, health officials confirmed Friday.

In a statement, Ilani General Manager and president Kara Fox-LaRose said in part, "Ilani has prepared for this possibility and we are consulting with local public health officials and working to identify any individual that came in close contact with the team member. We are in the process of alerting those who were in the team member's work area to their potential exposure to COVID-19."

The statement also said the employee's work area had been thoroughly disinfected.

Ilani reopened to the public on May 28 after having been closed since mid-March. The casino is in Clark County but on tribal land, so it's not under county jurisdiction. Cowlitz County health officials are investigating the case because the infected employee lives in Cowlitz County.

“With COVID-19, a lot of their close contacts might be in their household,” said Steven Krager, Deputy Health Officer for Cowlitz County. “We don't have concern about a large exposure to customers in that casino.”

Krager said the casino is sifting through hours of surveillance video to uncover any possible exposures.

“If we identify close contacts that happened at the workplace, we would notify those people and they would be asked to quarantine for 14 days since the exposure happened,” said Krager.

Other tribal casinos are taking added precautions while welcoming guests. Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City reopened May 21. A spokesperson tells KGW they’re requiring all employees and guests to wear face masks and have their temperatures taken when they arrive. The casino also banned smoking and cleans gaming machines after each use. So far, they haven't had any reported COVID-19 cases.

Whether it's shopping at a grocery store or testing their luck at a casino, Krager cautions people not to tempt their fate. He said it’s still critical to wear face masks, wash hands frequently and stay six-feet apart from each other.

“This is still happening in our community,” said Krager. “Especially for people who are higher risk, we want to keep them safe.”

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