New York’s Yonkers Raceway Closes after COVID-19 Infected Worker Dies


New York’s Yonkers Raceway was shuttered Tuesday after a long-time trainer and office worker afflicted with coronavirus died. The MGM Resorts International-owned track is located about six miles from New Rochelle, where there is a significant outbreak of COVID-19.

John Brennan, who reportedly worked at an office at Yonkers Raceway, died Tuesday after contracting coronavirus. The track was closed. (Image Rockland/Westchester Journal News)

The employee was identified by the New York Post as John Brennan, 69, of New Jersey. He is the first person to die in the Garden State from coronavirus.

MGM said he was employed by the Standardbred Owners Association and worked in an office at Yonkers Raceway. The office is located next to the track and paddock. The MGM-owned Empire City Casino is located next to the track.

Like a lot of patients who die from coronavirus, Brennan had several preexisting health conditions. He suffered from emphysema, diabetes, and hypertension, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported, based on statements from New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

He tested positive for the coronavirus before his death. Brennan had a heart attack Monday.

He survived because of medical intervention. But then he had a fatal heart attack on Tuesday morning, the Journal News said.

Brennan had not traveled recently to nations where there is a significant outbreak of coronavirus. Raceway employees who came into close contact with Brennan are requested by MGM to remain at home.

Employees Asked to Self-Quarantine

“We have asked employees who worked in the immediate area to self-quarantine,” MGM said in a statement released on Tuesday. “We believe the last time he was on the property to be approximately eight days ago.”

MGM decided to close the racetrack on Tuesday afternoon. MGM is working with public health officials and is following their guidance, the company statement said.

The company is also collaborating with officials in preventing the illness’ possible spread. It is likely the track will undergo an extensive cleaning, based on what happened at other settings where someone with coronavirus has spent time.

Early this week, schools, houses of worship, and planned public events were canceled in New Rochelle, which, like Yonkers, is north of New York City. The National Guard was activated to provide food and help in New Rochelle cleanup efforts, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, according to USA Today.

The state will put into place a “containment area” for a 1-mile radius surrounding the cluster of the outbreak in New Rochelle and Eastchester. As of late Tuesday, there were 108 cases of coronavirus in New Rochelle, CNN reported.

MGM Resorts Takes Steps in Response to Coronavirus

In recent weeks, MGM Resorts claims it has enhanced cleaning and put in place safety protocols at its properties to help prevent the spread of the illness. For instance, MGM Resorts will temporarily halt buffet service at several of the company’s Las Vegas Strip properties.

On Sunday, buffets at the ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, and Excalibur will be closed. MGM plans to evaluate the status of the buffets on a weekly basis. It did not specify when buffet service will resume.

MGM also said it will pay employees their standard rate of pay if they contract coronavirus or are quarantined as a result of the outbreak.

In recent days, gaming floor employees at Wynn Las Vegas reportedly are routinely shredding or cleaning decks of cards. Slot machines are disinfected more frequently, too.

Though the risk of contracting coronavirus remains relatively low in the US, there is concern in states like Washington, New York, Oregon, and California about the “community spread” of the illness. It is where patients get sick without having close contact with an infected person. Nor have they visited relatively heavily infected regions, such as China, South Korea, Iran, or Italy.

In light of the outbreak, health officials warn members of the public to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also, it is recommended to stay away from those who appear to be sick.


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