COVID-19 Community update for Fall 2022

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News

The Gila River Indian Community has been utilizing a phased approach to resume full operations of its departments and entities after two years of limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Cases in the Community continue to decrease with a 0.8 percent 7-day positive case rate. Only 23 cases have been reported between Sept. 5 – 11, significantly lower than the 62 positive cases reported between August 22-28.


With the continued decrease, GRIC has entered Phase III of the Community’s COVID-19 Phase Approach, which had several changes with continued precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, including daily COVID screenings.


Mandatory COVID-19 Surveillance is no longer required among GRIC employees. However, anyone experiencing any symptoms are required to test immediately and follow workplace policies before returning to work.


The Tribal Health Department may determine required closures for an entity/organization/department due to an outbreak or other health-related concern due to COVID-19.


In addition to the COVID-19 Phase Approach, Executive Order No. 16 was released on September 8, announcing some changes not seen since before the pandemic.


Gathering limitations in the Community are now removed, provided physical distancing is maintained. And indoor gatherings of 50 people or more no longer require approval from the Community.


Face masks are still required in common areas such as tribal government buildings and schools that continue to follow their approved reopening plans.


Vaccinations, including boosters, remain available for individuals ages five and older. A total of 51,3478 vaccines have been given through Gila River Health Care.


The following is an overview of some of the significant executive orders issued by GRIC

  • March 2020:

The Gila River Indian Community issued Executive Order declaring a public health emergency in response to COVID-19, face masks are required within GRIC boundaries. Tribal government, departments, and schools begin remote work and learning.

  • Oct. 2020:

A partial return to work plan was enacted with priority made for public safety and tribal government offices.

  • April 2021:

Approval of phased return-to-work plan. Vaccinations are provided and encouraged for GRIC members and employees.

  • June 2021:

Growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic as variants emerge.

  • Aug. 2021:

COVID-19 positive cases increased in the Community due to the Delta variant. GRIC schools continue virtual learning.

  • Jan. 2022:

Selected schools reopen in the Community, subject to the approval of a return-to-school plan. Schools also continue to provide the option for virtual learning.

  • July 2022:

All schools in the Community reopen, and continuing to follow COVID-19 precautions, including face masks and vaccinations are encouraged among staff and students.


COVID-19 vaccinations are still the most effective protection against COVID-19-related illness and hospitalization. Currently, 70% of the community’s residents are Not Up to Date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.  


Please visit Gila River Health Care or for more information to schedule a vaccination or vaccine booster.