The Pima County Health Department inspected the Green Valley Elks Lodge last week as part of a contact tracing investigation and made several recommendations to operate more safely amid the pandemic.
The visit Nov. 10 came days after Lodge 2592 Exalted Ruler Greg Pile sent an email to members telling them that “an employee who felt ill about a week ago” tested positive for COVID-19.
The Nov. 5 email said the employee was on a 14-day quarantine but he did not indicate whether the employee had direct contact with the public. The email to members said they had “scheduled a company to perform an Electro-status Sanitizing of our entire Lodge that will fight against viruses for 90 days.”
The email did not indicate that the lodge closed its doors or curtailed any events. The lodge’s website says social distancing and masks are required.
During three calls and a visit to the lodge since Saturday, staff deferred to Pile for comment. He had not returned calls as of Tuesday afternoon.
Pima County made several recommendations to improve the environment in the Elks Lodge, including:
•Use a sanitizer that has a shorter contact time. (Contact time is the time the disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface in order to ensure efficacy.)
•Informed staff of the EPA N-list, a list of products effective against the virus.
•Ensure social distancing in the bingo hall.
•Open doors to increase circulation.
•Wear face masks when not eating or drinking.
During the investigation, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes, the following was noted:
•There was no social distancing at bar seating.
•The bingo tables were not spaced six feet apart.
The report noted that the lodge already had several safety measures in place, including a face mask requirement for everybody in the facility and temperature checks for employees before starting shifts.
The inspection followed a July 4 visit by the Pima County Health Department where the lodge was found out of compliance on four of 13 measures:
•There was not the required signage posted at the entrance that reads, “STOP Please do not enter if you have COVID-19 symptoms.”
•No required signage of public health advisories prohibiting those who are symptomatic from entering.
•Booth table area not six feet apart.
•No six-foot space marks by restroom and entry of facility.
A follow-up visit July 23 found the lodge in compliance on all 13 measures.
Pima County would not give additional information on the contact tracing investigation.
Legion Post 66
American Legion Post 66 in Sahuarita, which said a bartender reported having the virus last week, will likely be closed until after Thanksgiving after more cases came to light.
An email sent to post members Monday, said 14 people, including staff, board members and volunteers, had become ill since the employee reported.
Post Commander Wayne Ferreira said Tuesday that number could be higher or lower and that they have not connected the cases to the post itself.
The post originally planned to close until Nov. 25, but Ferreira said that likely will be extended until after Thanksgiving.
The post canceled its Thanksgiving Day meal, golf outings and has sanitized the building, which will be done again, he said.
Post 66 reopened Sept. 1 after having been closed for nearly six months. They instituted a number of precautions, including temperature checks, required masks, plexiglass barriers and not allowing patrons to sit at the bar, Ferreira said. They also cut the capacity of the bar nearly in half, from 139 to 68 people.
“We could open up today for the sanitization part of it, but there are a bunch of people who’ve tested, and should be clear around the 24th or 25th,” he said Tuesday. “But we might wait until after Thanksgiving, it’s looking like that. Our board thinks safety first.”
“I don’t see what good it’s going to do to open before Thanksgiving,” Ferreira said. “It’s not worth getting everybody together again, especially when everything’s spiking again.”