Rep. Tom O’Halleran visits Gila River Indian Community

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran visited the Gila River Indian Community for an update on GRIC’s pandemic response with Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis at the Governance Center on Oct. 14.

“We are remaining diligent in our fight against [COVID-19],” said Gov. Lewis. 


The Community continued with priorities during the pandemic, such as the groundbreaking for Casa Blanca Community School and the litigation to push the 2020 Census deadline.


“[We] were the first community to have a mask requirement and stay at home order. The mask requirement and the stringent health orders have helped the Community combat the pandemic,” said Gov. Lewis.  


O’Halleran showed his support for GRIC’s efforts to require masks across GRIC to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 


“There is no better mechanism to keep people from getting sick, it’s critical,” said O’Halleran. 

Gov. Lewis informed O’Halleran that GRIC’s youth have played a big role in outreach to stay safe during the pandemic. 


Gov. Lewis also detailed GRIC’s online learning programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students, teachers and staff. 


Gov. Lewis issued an Executive Order to ensure distance learning guidelines. 

“The protocols are so important, to open [these] schools without proper testing, social distancing and PPE, it’s not a good situation,” said O’Halleran. 


He said the health of the students and school staff is important not just to themselves, but their families as well. 


O’Halleran pointed out the importance of public health measures to prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection and seasonal influenza as temperatures decline. 


Gov. Lewis also addressed federal aid for businesses, families and local governments across the nation, including tribal communities hardest hit by COVID-19. 


O’Halleran said aid is critical during the pandemic, especially for at-risk populations and families in need of economic assistance while Gov. Lewis reported that GRIC continues to prepare members for the workforce.


“We are looking at ways we can provide job training and job mentoring through the end of the year and next year, because there are a number of Community members who need that training to find employment in these times,” said Gov. Lewis.


O’Halleran agreed that job placement has been a priority during the pandemic. 

“We’ve included into the HEROs Act money for that very explicit purpose,” said O’Halleran.