Coronavirus update: GRIC partial closure continues, testing increases, more cases for other tribes

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News


The reopening of Arizona took place on May 15, most businesses, restaurants and parks are now open to the public. With the increase in activity the number of COVID-19 cases have continued to grow overall. The total number has increased to 22,753 positive cases in the state as of June 4 according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. 


In efforts to protect the Gila River Indian Community and reduce risk, the Community remains in partial closure along with other tribes in the state. The Community was set to reopen on June 1 but has been extended to June 15 in order to safely have all employees returning to work. “The extended closure is to facilitate continuation of the Community’s COVID-19 testing program and COVID-19 Preparedness Plans,” according to the amended Executive Order No. 5.Employees for the Community have been tested prior to their return to work and will continue to be tested every two weeks.



COVID-19 testing is now available for all Community members, employees and anyone living within the Community. All testing will occur from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m in the following Districts this month.


June 2 – June 4: District 5

June 9 – June 12: District 6

June 16 – June 19: District 1

June 23 – June 26: District 2 & District 7

*schedule is subject to change. 


Test results are usually received within 3 - 5 business days. For those who test negative, they will be contacted by Gila River Health Care staff by phone. If they are unable to get in contact by phone, a letter will be sent by mail. Those who test positive will be contacted by a doctor by phone, receive a follow up and begin contact tracing. 


“During a pandemic there will be positive cases but the goal is to use testing to contain the virus in our Community and as the results show, we have been able to do that successfully,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis in a video update for the Community. The Gila River Indian Community has 30 positive cases of COVID-19 among its members. The Community strongly promotes physical distancing and wearing a mask when out in public.


Tribes throughout Arizona continue to vary in their reopening process. The Hopi Tribe reported 104 positive cases as of June 3. Hopi tribal government shut down and stay-at-home orders have been extended to June 20. 


Tohono O’odham Nation reported 62 positive cases on May 29. Tohono O’odham Nation tribal government shut down and stay-at-home orders are set to expire on June 4, the tribe is planning to re-open on June 5.


Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has reported 47 positive cases as of June 3. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has begun their reopening in phases as of June 1.


Navajo Nation continues to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 5,661 positive cases. 2,029 individuals have recovered. Also announcing the tribe has the extended closure of their governmental offices and entities and daily curfew until July 5, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation, as of June 3.


According to precautionary measures by the CDC, it is recommended that you continue to protect yourself and others from catching or spreading the COVID-19 virus.  Avoid close contact, keep physical distance (at least 6-ft.) from other people. Wear a face mask, cover your mouth and nose when out in public places. It is important to remember that some people could spread the coronavirus even without showing symptoms. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.