Family Says Dad Would Still Be Alive If Casino Hadn’t Reopened

Family Says Dad Would Still Be Alive If Casino Hadn’t Reopened

By Jessica Swarner

June 16, 2020

“It feels like a bad dream that I want to wake up from, but I can’t.” 

When Gov. Doug Ducey announced that businesses in Arizona could reopen, Robert Washington Jr. was called back to work as a security guard at Gila River Lone Butte Casino in Chandler. 

His family said he was told that due to his pre-existing conditions – diabetes and, previously, prostate cancer – he could monitor the casino’s perimeter from a golf cart to lessen his interaction with people. But, the family told ABC 15, Washington still ended up working at the door. 

Washington reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 five days after restarting his job and was hospitalized shortly after. He died June 11. 

“It feels like a bad dream that I want to wake up from, but I can’t,” Washington’s daughter Shawné Jackson told ABC 15. 

RELATED: Over 40 UPS Workers Got Sick With COVID in Tucson — And It Didn’t Stop There

Jackson said in a Facebook post that her sister had interviewed their dad on camera earlier this year to create a record of his life.

“Little did we know that this would now be a keepsake for the family to have as a lasting memory of him,” Jackson wrote.

A casino spokesperson said the business has been testing employees biweekly, operating at half capacity, requiring masks to be worn on property, and taking other measures to protect employee and customer health. 

But ABC 15 has reportedly received emails from other Gila River Lone Butte Casino employees stating multiple people connected to the casino have tested positive, and they accused the casino of not taking their safety seriously enough.

The casino had closed March 18 and reopened May 15, when Gov. Doug Ducey allowed the state’s stay-at-home order to expire.

Arizona Seeing Resurgence

Washington’s case is one of many COVID-related deaths that have occurred since people began to return to the workplace in early May. Arizona soared past its previous daily COVID-19 case record Tuesday, with the state health department reporting 2,392 new cases. 

The previous record for the number of cases reported in one day was 1,654 on June 12. 

RELATED: President Trump Plans Phoenix Rally as Arizona Sees Uptick in COVID Cases

At least nine businesses in the Phoenix area, including Chelsea’s Kitchen in Arcadia, have been forced to close once again due to employees testing positive. 

Despite requests from local municipalities, Ducey has refused to implement a statewide mask-wearing mandate. As a result, the restaurant group that owns Chelsea’s Kitchen, LGO Hospitality, is now requiring diners to wear face coverings inside except when they are seated at their table. 

In addition to the record daily cases Tuesday, Arizona’s health department reported 25 new deaths, coming to a total so far of 1,219. 

The U.S. has reached totals of over 2 million cases and 116,000 deaths.

[ninja_forms id=2]


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized
Related Stories
Share This