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San Diego County health officials critical of casinos' plans to reopen next week

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Posted at 12:19 AM, May 14, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – San Diego County health officials were critical of local casinos’ plans for reopening when asked about the issue during Wednesday's daily coronavirus briefing.

"We are very concerned, and we want to make it perfectly clear we do not agree with reopening casinos on May 18," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, with San Diego County Health and Human Services.

Wooten was referring to Viejas Casino's plan to reopen May 18. Other county casinos plan to reopen later in the week, including Sycuan Casino (May 20) and Valley View Casino (May 22).

Officials with Sycuan Casino Resort told 10News earlier this week that they are taking strong sanitation measures, as well as modifying their casinos to promote social distancing. They will also be taking temperatures at the entrance.

“We feel our health officers order extend to the tribal nations in this situation," Wooten said. "We will work through CDC to determine if we can address the issue further to prevent the openings on May 18."

The casinos are on tribal land, which falls under federal jurisdiction.

Sycuan officials responded to 10News request for comment with a statement from Chief Administrative Officer Adam Day:

"We disagree with any legal interpretation that allows the county any jurisdiction over activities on a tribal reservation.

However, we share the same concern for public health and safety, and that is why our reopening plan incorporates all federal, state, and county public health guidance and industry best practices - over 700 different requirements to be approved by our regulators. We are highly confident our patrons and employees will be as safe as possible as we slowly reopen our facility in phases over time.

It is unfortunate the public health officer chose a press conference to share her concerns, as we informed her of our robust plan nearly a week ago, and we have yet to hear a response from her or her office."