Massachusetts DPH stepping in to help vaccinate casino workers

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (State House News Service) – After hearing concerns that members of the Gaming Commission expressed over the vaccination rates among gaming center employees, the Department of Public Health launched conversations with the state’s casinos and slots parlor about ways to promote vaccination.

Gaming Commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said Thursday that DPH Associate Commissioner Lindsey Tucker got in touch following the Aug. 4 meeting at which gaming regulators discussed vaccination policies and COVID-19 mitigation recommendations for Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino.

“In seeing the reports of our meeting, she reached out to me to see if she could be introduced to the leadership at each property so that DPH could offer any additional help to further the vaccination rates at the properties, including, for instance, a mobile vaccine clinic,” Judd-Stein said. “I know that DPH truly wanted to support what became clear was a priority for all the commissioners.”

During the Aug. 4 meeting, Encore said about 70 percent of its workers were fully vaccinated and that it requires vaccination verification before an employee is allowed to go mask-free. MGM Springfield estimated about 50 percent of its workforce was vaccinated and said it mandates that all employees, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while at work. Plainridge Park estimated that between 60 percent and 65 percent of workers were vaccinated and began requiring proof of vaccination from its employees who wish to go mask-free after commissioners said they were concerned about the property’s previous policy.

A commission official said Thursday that about 70 percent of the slots parlor’s workforce is now fully vaccinated.

Loretta Lillios, head of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, told commissioners Thursday that MGM Springfield, in particular, has been engaged in discussions with DPH about bringing a mobile vaccination clinic to its property. The casino’s corporate office recently announced that new hires as of Aug. 30 will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated and all salaried employees will have to do the same by Oct. 15.

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