North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is the Site of Coronavirus Cluster

  • Five casino workers at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino tested positive within two weeks of each other
  • Infected employees, along with those who came in close contact with them, are in isolation
  • Harrah's Cherokee remains open to the public
woman with face guard tests a man in a car for coronavirus
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina is the site of a “coronavirus cluster,” as five employees have tested positive within a two-week span. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A serious issue

North Carolina health officials are looking into a cluster of coronavirus cases at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Jackson County after five of the casino’s workers tested positive within two weeks of each other.

According to a Monday news release from the Jackson County Department of Public Health, the infected employees work on the casino’s table games. The staff members are currently following the mandatory isolation requirements. 

defines a cluster as a workplace where there have been at least five confirmed cases of the virus inside of a two-week period

The North Carolina Division of Public Health defines a cluster as a workplace where there have been at least five confirmed cases of the virus inside of a two-week period and where there is a linkage between those who were infected. 

Response to this cluster

Harrah’s Cherokee regional manager Brooks Robinson said: “Based on information provided by the employees and video surveillance records, no other employees or customers have been identified as close contacts as defined by the CDC.”

He went on to say that the workers who tested positive and those who have shown symptoms or have been in close contact with other positive cases are not allowed to return to work until the self-isolation period has been completed. 

The casino is still open for business despite the presence of the cluster. Robinson said that all of its employees have received proper training on sanitizing and cleaning techniques since reopening. 

Concern for the casino

The casino had initially shut down its operations because of the pandemic on March 18 along with the only other tribal casino in the state, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. Both of the properties are operated by Caesars Entertainment and owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper had issued an executive order to close non-essential businesses in an attempt to stop the virus spreading. While the tribal casinos do not have to follow orders from the state government as they are located on sovereign land, the casinos decided to close.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino opened its doors on May 28 at 30% capacity, requiring all workers to wear masks and implementing social distancing protocols on the casino floor. 

The casino also said in May that it would be conducting daily health checks on all workers. To date, there have been almost 280 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths confirmed in Jackson County. In North Carolina as a whole, there have been more than 101,000 confirmed cases and 1,676 deaths.