▶️ Warm Springs casino plans NYE bash as Jefferson Co. COVID cases climb

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Since the end of November, Jefferson County has added nearly 560 COVID cases.

But that’s not stopping Indian Head Casino in Warm Springs from ringing in the New Year with a big bash – and some precautions in place.

“Limited entry, so there’s only one entrance so that we can keep a solid eye on how many people are actually in the building,” said Belinda Chavez, director of marketing. “There’s a thermal scan for temperature and to be sure that face coverings are in place when someone comes in.”

The casino has ramped up their deep cleaning efforts, there’s no smoking allowed and plexiglass barriers will be set up throughout.

Guest attendance will be first come, first serve, maxing out at 300 people.

As of Tuesday, Jefferson County is up to 1,383 total cases of COVID-19.

And the county has more daily cases per 100,000 people (47.5) than all but one Oregon county according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID resource center.

We asked Chavez if she thinks it’s irresponsible to be holding a New Year’s Eve party in the midst of a pandemic.

“I think that everybody has to take care of themselves as well as us take care of the general public,” Chavez said. “That’s why we have the protocols in place that we do. I would go if I wasn’t going to have to be here anyway, I would go to a New Years Eve party that was going to be held with safe protocols in place.”

Considering the numbers, we asked viewers on Facebook what they think of the party.

Patricia D. says “it’s idiotic” and Michelle G. adds it’s “utterly irresponsible.”

Others like Ashley S. and Bobbie H. write “if you aren’t comfortable, stay home.”

Chavez says the casino hasn’t received much negative feedback so far.

“We’re just excited to be open,” Chavez said. “It’s great to have people back to work, and give an opportunity for some entertainment.”

We reached out to the Jefferson County Health Department to weigh in on the safety of this party.

They directed us to the Warm Springs Tribal Government, who did not respond to our request for comment.

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