Coronavirus News: Belmont worker tests positive for COVID-19, racing suspended

OZONE PARK, New York (WABC) -- The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Thursday announced that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack would be suspended until further notice after one of their staff members who live and works at Belmont park tested positive for the coronavirus.

The NYRA reported that a backstretch worker had been quarantined since developing symptoms on the morning of March 13. His roommate was also quarantined at that time.

"This individual and his roommate have been in isolation since prior to racing last Friday and, as such, did not travel to Aqueduct for live racing," said NYRA CEO and President Dave O'Rourke. "We are working with the County and State departments of health to ensure proper quarantine and sterilization practices will continue to be followed moving forward."

O'Rourke said he would ensure the health and safety of his workers and the horses in their care.

"Accordingly, we are immediately suspending racing operations until further notice to devote all our attention and resources to this effort," said O'Rourke.

NYRA reported that they have contracted with multiple outside cleaning vendors following best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

"At this point in the COVID-19 crisis, we all need to be 100 percent focused on the health of our staff and the welfare of our horses," said New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA) President Joe Appelbaum. "When the industry comes out the other side of this - and we will - having as many healthy horses and humans as possible will be paramount."

Racing at Aqueduct, which is conducted from Friday through Sunday in March, will be postponed until further notice.

A decision regarding the resumption of live racing and the upcoming Aqueduct stakes schedule, including the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 4, will be made at a later date.

TheBelmontPark backstretch and its facilities remain open to horsemen and operational for training.

Owners will not be permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.

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