Mask Mandates Spreading as Iowa Casino, EBCI Venues Take Action Against COVID-19

By | July 31, 2021

As the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, more places are starting to follow Nevada’s lead and make masks mandatory in indoor places. It’s not just governments making the call, either, as some casinos are going ahead and making the call on their own.

Prairie Meadows
Starting Sunday, all guests and employees will need to wear a mask when they enter the Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack, and Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. (Image: Prairie Meadows)

Starting Sunday at 8 am CT, employees and guests at Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack, and Hotel will need to wear a mask while on the grounds of the property in Altoona, Iowa.

The casino noted other measures being implemented to help prevent the spread, including a cleaning regimen using disinfectants and electrostatic sprayers on a “rigorous” basis every day. The casino does not plan to reduce capacity, but its COVID-19 policies recommend social distancing for people waiting in line for services.

The venue just outside Des Moines announced the measure on Friday, just three days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations for everyone – including those fully vaccinated – to wear masks in public indoor settings in areas where the viral spread is considered significant or high.

According to CDC data, Polk County, where Prairie Meadows is based, is considered a significant spread area. On Friday, the federal agency said the county had a rate of 66.1 new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days. That rate jumped nearly 75 percent in the last week.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos Now Requires Masks

Some tribal casinos have also announced that they are requiring masks on their gaming floors.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reinstated the mandate in its western North Carolina territory on Friday. The tribe’s two Harrah’s casinos then relayed the order, with it taking effect at 5 pm ET Friday. Masks are required for all workers and guests as soon as they enter.

“Reinstating our mask policy is a simple way that we can do our part to help slow the spread of the virus,” the EBCI casinos said in a statement posted on their Facebook pages.

Starting today, the San Manuel Casino in Highland, Calif., located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, announced that it was requiring masks for all employees and “strongly” encouraging vaccinated guests to wear them as well. Unvaccinated guests are still required to wear masks.

On Friday, the Pechanga Casino Resort announced it would urge all guests to wear masks indoors, but all employees will be required to wear them indoors.

Mask Mandate Reaction Mixed

The resumption of mask requirements has led to a mixed reaction from the public. While some have applauded the casinos for taking the position, others have said it will keep them away, though the reasons vary.

My trip there is for fun and to get away from all the madness in the world and forget about problems for a while but if I am forced to do something I’m not comfortable with, it takes the fun away,” Facebook user Brett Kalill posted on the Harrah’s Cherokee site.

Others questioned why they should have to wear a mask when they have received the vaccination.

In the days since releasing the new guidance, more information has come to light regarding what prompted federal health officials to make that call. The New York Times reported Friday an internal CDC report indicated the delta variant was more transmissible than the common cold and as contagious as chickenpox.

Because fully vaccinated individuals can still contract the virus – the vaccine works to prevent people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19 – those individuals who are infected can still spread the virus.

In addition, the vaccine has only been approved – on an emergency basis – for individuals ages 12 and older. While those younger cannot receive the vaccine, they are still susceptible of catching and spreading the virus.

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