Gila River Indian Community continues in efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News



In continued efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, the Gila River Indian Community has extended the partial shutdown of government departments and offices until Friday, May 15. The Community also extended suspension of travel for Community employees. Funeral services, wakes and cremations have been allowed to take place under conditions that no more than 10 people attend and must wear PPE. Families are encouraged to consider larger memorial services once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. 


Executive Order No. 6 was also amended on April 30 to extend the “Stay at Home” order for GRIC.

Through an on-going series of video updates from Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis on the Community’s official Facebook page, on April 29, he stated that there has been a total of 996 COVID-19 tests conducted by Gila River Health Care (GRHC). 915 of those tests are negative, 33 pending, and 3 canceled by the reference lab. 45 positive cases for the coronavirus, 13 of those are Community members. 


Gov. Lewis continues to make testing one of the key priorities while working with GRHC and the Community’s Tribal Health Department, “Testing allows us to see where any COVID-[19] cases are, where resources are needed and allows the Community Council, Lt. Gov. Stone and myself to make critical on-going decisions related to the health, safety, and economic welfare of the Community,” said Gov. Lewis in his April 29 video update.


On April 28, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state’s stay at home order will also be extended until May 15, with some modifications that would allow certain business to reopen under proper safety protocols. The state’s stay home order was originally set to expire on May 1. 


Gila River Hotels & Casinos also extended their closures to the May 15, as well as many other casinos. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has extended the closure of their casinos through the month of May.


Local tribal communities continue to combat the coronavirus and prevent the spread. On April 28, a press release from the Navajo Nation announced that they would be issuing another public health emergency order due to the high number of positive COVID-19 cases. The emergency order enforces a 57-hour weekend curfew on top of a 24-hour “shelter-in-place” order that’s already in effect. The tribe now has 1,873 positive COVID-19 cases with 10,772 tests that have been administered.


The Tohono O’odham Nation extended their departments and programs partial closure until June 4 and their stay at home order will remain in effect until further notice. As of April 24, the Tohono O’odham Nation reported 25 positive cases with 16 members living off the Nation. 


Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has zero positive reported cases of community member for the COVID-19. SRPMIC continues to take precautionary measures with stay home orders and enacted a new civil ordinance that would issue fines for those not obeying the order. 


The Gila River Indian Community continues to encourage practicing safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus with physical distancing, wearing a face mask, washing your hands and only leaving the house when necessary.