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More than 200 workers test positive for coronavirus at Golden Gate Fields

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 6 days ago By Michael Cabanatuan

The coronavirus has raced through Golden Gate Fields in the past week, infecting more than 200 people despite a shutdown of all racing at the Bay Area’s only horse track.

Berkeley health and Golden Gate Fields officials announced Friday night that all employees who live or work at the track have been tested and that the screenings will continue.

“Both Berkeley Public Health and 1/ST Racing (a company that handles track operations) will be closely monitoring the situation to follow all local, state and federal guidelines,” the statement said. “Should testing identify more cases, further investigation and tracing will be done by Berkeley Public Health and additional isolation and quarantine will be required.”

The track suspended all racing on Nov. 13 after 24 track workers tested positive. It had planned to resume racing — without spectators — in about a week. But after the tests, the racing shutdown has been extended until at least Dec. 3, according to the Golden Gate Fields website.

Representatives of the track and Berkeley did not return requests for details on Saturday. They released their joint announcement after business hours Friday.

All employees who have tested positive have been moved away from the track, where many of them live, and are being isolated. Golden Gate Fields is assisting with housing, the release said, and providing two meals a day to ensure no one has to leave isolation. Close contacts who tested negative are also being required to quarantine for 14 days. Track officials said they are providing daily food deliveries, access to medical care and additional restrooms and hand-washing facilities.

Hundreds of employees work at Golden Gate Fields, most of them caring for the 1,300 horses stabled along the track’s backstretch.

Golden Gate Fields sits on the Albany-Berkeley city border, wedged between Interstate 80 and the bay, with the race track and grandstands in Albany and dorms for workers and stables in Berkeley. It’s not clear how many people live in the track’s dorms or whether the virus has spread beyond those working with the horses.

Golden Gate Fields continued to operate after the state shelter-in-place orders took effect in March with special approval and no fans allowed to attend. The Alameda County Public Health Department shut the track down in April, but it was allowed to resume racing, still without patrons, in mid-May.

At the time, Golden Gate Fields General Manager David Duggan said the county concluded “that we would be a low-risk business.”

The 200-plus cases account for roughly 20% of the 1,080 cases reported on the Berkeley Public Health Department website. Berkeley has its own public health department, which has worked with Golden Gate Fields to control the outbreak at the track. The track is owned by the Stronach Group, a Canadian real estate and entertainment company that also owns 1/ST Racing.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ctuan

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