Wisconsin Dells businesses try to keep pandemic at bay

After COVID-19 cases at two destinations in the Dells, businesses break down what they do to keep people safe.
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Two Wisconsin Dells businesses reported positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Ho-Chunk Gaming announced three employees tested positive, and Noah’s Ark Water Park reported two employees with positive test results.

NBC15 followed up with area businesses to find out how they are working to keep people safe, even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells decided to keep its doors open, even after employees tested positive. The casino said these employees did not have close contact with the public.

“We believe we’re the safest place to go,” said executive general manager John Phillipp.

Phillipp emphasized that casino staff sanitize every night and pay special attention to high traffic employee areas.

“We super cleaned those areas, we went back and really cleaned it up well,” Phillipp said.

Since it opened in late June, the casino has limited capacity to 12 percent. Masks and temperature checks are required for staff and guests, and slot machines are spaced out to maintain six feet of social distancing.

The casino also installed plexiglass barriers at table games and at cashier windows. Staff on the gaming floor also sanitizes gaming machines after each use.

“I think it’s really clean and stuff in here, they’re walking around and telling everybody to keep their masks on and I think they’re doing good,” said Joanna Prime, who was visiting the casino for the first time since the pandemic began.

NBC15 also reached out to local water parks to find out more about what they are doing. Kalahari Resorts declined an interview request, and no one was available to speak at Great Wolf Lodge or Noah’s Ark Water Park.

One Kalahari guest said she feels the resort is doing its best to keep families safe.

“Everything seems to be clean, it smells clean, it looks clean,” said Valerie Kennedy, who was visiting with her friends and family.

Kalahari’s website details its plan for safety, including frequent cleaning and requiring masks except when guests are using the water parks.

“All the maids and stuff in the hall are keeping their distance and wearing gloves and masks,” Kennedy explained.

An update on Noah’s Ark’s website Tuesday said the park remains closed and there is no set reopening date. The update also said staff continues to deep clean and sanitize the park.

All the businesses maintain that the safety of their staff and guests is the top priority.

“It’s the right thing to do for the community, for the Ho-Chunk Nation and for our team members and guests,” Phillipp said.

The Sauk County Health Department is handling contact tracing and following up with employees who have tested positive. Health officials told NBC15 that they provide isolation guidelines to those employees and everyone they had close contact with.

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