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Casino workers plead for better mask compliance

Posted at 10:09 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 06:37:00-04

SHELBYVILLE — Some people aren't sure that a mask mandate alone will make a difference in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Casino workers in the state, however, want better enforcement now.

"The fear that I might get COVID or that they'll infect everybody else," Donna Billman said.

For about a month now, employees and guests at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville have been required to wear masks inside. But Billman, who works as a slot technician, said no one is really enforcing that and many are not complying.

"If you say something to them, they are immediately like, 'I'm drinking or I'm smoking or I'm going to get me something to eat,'" Billman said.

The casino's policy is if you are actively drinking, eating or smoking you don't have to have your mask on. But otherwise, you do.

"I don't feel protected at all," Billman said. "Because you go by them once and you say something and then you come back by 20 minutes later and they're still without a mask."

On Thursday, the Unite Here Local 23 union delivered a petition signed by 200 casino employees across the state to managers, demanding for better enforcement of the company's mask policy, plus affordable healthcare. 87 percent of employees reported coming to work sick in a survey because they couldn't afford to miss work. It's something Billman relates to having been on disability for several months following a surgery last year.

"If someone does get COVID then they are going to be screwed basically," Billman said. "I mean if my bill for just surgery was that much I can't imagine what it's going to be if you're gonna have to be on a ventilator or in a hospital on ICU for weeks or months. It's just ridiculous."

Though Gov. Eric Holcomb's executive order mandating mask wearing statewide starts Monday, Billman said based on what's she's seeing at work that won't make much of a difference.

"They're standing in groups without wearing their masks, holding their drinks and I just don't see that it's going to change," Billman said.