Four Hours After Reopening, Michigan Casino Had A Positive COVID-19 Patient Inside

Posted on June 1, 2020

An individual who later tested positive for COVID-19 was in a Michigan casino about four hours after it reopened on Friday.

Customers who visited Odawa Casino in Petoskey on Friday should self-monitor for 14 days because of possible exposure. The individual was there from about 2 p.m. until 5 p.m., according to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Odawa reopened at 10 a.m. on Friday after being closed for 72 days since March 17.

On Wednesday morning, Odawa posted a message on Facebook about the incident, stating in part: “We were able to verify that the customer wore their mask the entire time they were on property. All of our team members were following Odawa Casinos safety protocol by wearing face masks, sanitizing slot machines and all public areas.”

Odawa customers had ‘low-risk exposure’

The health department issued a news release on Sunday about the case, detailing the self-monitoring process for “low-risk exposure.”

Those who visited the casino on Friday should: Monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Diarrhea

If you develop symptoms, the health department urges residents to call a primary physician for testing. If you don’t have one, call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan at 1-800-432-4121.

Both Odawa Casinos locations recently reopened

Odawa Casinos, which is operated by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, opened the Mackinaw City location on May 22, and the flagship Petoskey facility on Friday.

The Petoskey casino is open daily from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m. with four hours of deep cleaning afterward to prepare for the following day.

The casino staff is taking the temperature of guests at the entrance. with nobody who registers over 100 degrees admitted. Masks are required and provided, as supplies last.

Sanitizing wipes are available, and regulations prohibit smoking. In addition to regular cleaning, the housekeeping staff is on the floor to clean slot machines, as requested.

Odawa Casino not the only place visited

The patient also visited Pine Squirrel Bar and Grill in Gaylord from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, then went to Paul’s Pub, also in Gaylord, from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

In the news release announcing the tracing, health officer Lisa Peacock urged caution despite much of northern Michigan being open.

“We understand this is an exciting time to return to public space as the weather gets warmer. However, this situation is a reminder that we must continue to be vigilant and focus on what each of us can do to protect ourselves and those around us.

“The success we have seen in northern Michigan is the result of all of us working together to do the right thing. By each of us doing our part, we are staying safe to stay open!”

Gov. Whitmer: More Michigan reopenings next week

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opened up much of Northern Michigan on May 22. On Monday, she announced bars and restaurants throughout the state can open to 50% capacity starting June 9.

Detroit’s three commercial casinos are not part of this reopening phase and will remain closed.

As of Monday afternoon, 10 of Michigan’s 26 casinos were reopened.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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