Gov. Lewis Issues Executive Order No. 11, Eases Stay-At-Home Mandate
Gila River Indian News
In a June 18 video address, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis highlighted that between June 6 and June 12 the Community reported only two new COVID-19 positive cases. In the wake of this welcome news, the Governor announced Executive Order No. 11, which lifted the Community-wide stay-at-home order and eased some other restrictions.
“I have been committed to following the science and the data and using that information to drive our policy to address this pandemic,” said Gov. Lewis in his address. “The new Executive Order No. 11 relaxes certain measures for our community with a goal of loosening these restrictions further as members become fully vaccinated.”
The Gila River Indian Community has reached the 40% vaccination rate, according to the Tribal Health Department. A total of 19,619 vaccines have been administered. The Community has performed 256, 947 COVID tests leading to 6,644 positive results, according to Tribal Health Department’s data report.
“The virus is not over,” said Lewis. The Governor encouraged individuals who are not fully vaccinated to stay home as much as possible to prevent the possibility of infection. Symptoms of the COVID-19 virus may not be present until 2-14 days after exposure, according to medical professionals. Symptoms can include fever, chills, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell.
Face mask requirements remain in place for those who are not fully vaccinated, first responders, anyone visiting a GRIC government building and GRIC employees who are within six feet of each other or when visiting another department, regardless of vaccination status.
GRIC-based businesses are strongly encouraged to adopt or maintain mask requirements for both employees and visitors. All Community government services will resume June 30.
Executive Order No. 11 increased the limit for gatherings up to 40 people. Funeral services, GRIC commercial entities and meetings of elected and appointed officials are exempt from the gathering limit, as long as they adhere to GRIC’s public health and COVID-19 protection guidelines.
Gov. Lewis stated he would consider relaxing this limit once the Community reaches a vaccination rate above 45 percent. The moratorium on utility cutoffs for those who have not paid has been eliminated. A moratorium against evictions for those who have not paid rent remains in place, unless the eviction is due to criminal activity.
“I understand that many jurisdictions are lifting restrictions completely, but as a sovereign government, we have to make those decisions that are best for our community as a whole,” said the Governor.
Lewis also announced that schools will return to in-person learning in August. Each school’s reopening plan will be reviewed and approved by the Tribal Education Department, Tribal Health Department Health and the Community Council’s Education standing committee.
“This is an important milestone for our youth,” said Gov. Lewis. “They’ve been so resilient throughout this pandemic.”
Currently six different variants of the COVID-19 virus have been reported and are being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control. The Delta variant, which has proven to be more contagious, is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus. Studies suggest that the current available vaccines have proven effective against the variants by lessening the severity and need for hospitalization, according to the CDC.