A lawsuit filed by one of San Diego County’s tribes reveals that COVID-19 was already spreading among casino employees and patrons in the early days of the pandemic and that Sheriff Bill Gore, in an effort to get casinos to close, threatened to restrict access to tribal lands.
The Aug. 6 suit was filed by the Jamul Indian Village Development Corp. — the company that operates the Jamul Casino and a branch of the Jamul Indian Village’s tribal government — against its insurance provider, Lexington Insurance Co.
While arguing that Lexington had wrongly refused to reimburse the tribe for losses it suffered during the pandemic, the tribe also shed light on how quickly COVID-19 began affecting casinos and how seriously the county responded to that potential public health threat.
According to the lawsuit, around March 12 — a day after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic — the Jamul Indian Village learned that two Jamul Casino employees and a casino patron had likely contracted COVID-19. Around that time, they also learned of an employee who had been exposed to the virus.
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