GRIC and other tribes continue to adjust during coronavirus outbreak

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


As the state reopens, many of the local tribes have been adjusting to the many changes and are responding to the needs of their own members and community based on many factors. 

The Gila River Indian Community has been working diligently to keep the Community safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and will begin a phased reopening of tribal businesses and enterprises along with testing for essential employees. “Since the very first days of the pandemic we have pursued an aggressive testing plan that is focused on testing, tracing, and treating cases of COVID-19 in the Community,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis in a video update on May 12. He stated that inpatient capacity has been increased throughout the Gila River Health Care system.


The Navajo Nation has been considered a hotspot for COVID-19. As of May 13, there are now 3,392 positive cases for the virus with many who have recovered or are in the process of recovering, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation. Their 57-hour weekend lockdown continues to be in effect but will now have slightly stricter measures. “With some states starting to reopen, it’s giving people the impression that it’s okay to go out into public, but it’s not safe yet,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a press release. 


Tohono O’odham Nation released more information on their number of cases. As of May 8, there were 39 positive cases reported. Their stay at home order and shutdown remains in effect until June 4 but advises their members to continue to take precautions with physical distancing and limiting travel for essential purposes only. Casino operations have not yet resumed. 


The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has now reported 5 positive cases among their members as of May 12. They are also urging members to practice personal safety measures.