Time to Mask Up Gila River

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


With the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases across the state of Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community put Executive Order No. 8 into effect, mandating facial coverings and protective face masks in public areas within GRIC on June 18. 


The mask requirement applies to all Community members over two-years-of-age to wear masks or face coverings in public areas of GRIC, unless traveling through on a federal or state right-of-way. Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said the spike in COVID cases is real and is deeply troubling, which prompted the Community to take protective measures, which includes wearing masks.  


He said it comes down to three basic things to follow: Wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. 


“We want our Community members to take it upon themselves as their responsibility to mask-up, practice social distancing and wash your hands often,” said Gov. Lewis. 


Although some may find wearing a mask uncomfortable, Gov. Lewis said, “We have to get to this ‘new normal’ to wear masks, to protect our most vulnerable, and our youngest Community members.” He said wearing a mask is especially important where there are multi-generations living in a household. 


“With the masking requirement, I am calling on each of [you] to help us continue this fight. Our medical officials are advising us that it will help break the spike,” said Gov. Lewis. He said the Community has been closely monitoring the spike in cases of COVID-19 as they continue to rise across the state, which prompted the new executive order on masks.  


The Community also provided mask fact sheets to explain the mandatory order, which included recommendations on wearing masks around individuals 65-years-old and older, those with underlying medical conditions, around others when traveling in a vehicles and tribal government buildings. 


Community members can obtain a mask at district service centers. For those over two-years-of-age, it is recommended to wear a face mask, unless they have a medical condition where a face mask is not recommended by the child’s doctor.