Tribes, Organizations Proactively Address Coronavirus Preparedness

The Navajo Nation COVID-19 Preparedness Team meeting at the Office of the President and Vice President in Window Rock, Ariz. on Feb. 28, 2020.

The first Tribe in the country to announce the establishment of an official team to monitor, plan, prepare, and coordinate precautionary efforts to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) is the Navajo Nation. There are currently no cases of the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Department of Health reported. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer officially established the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Preparedness Team on Thursday as a proactive measure to continue raising public awareness of the virus, and to plan and prepare for the potential spread of the coronavirus in their region.

The efforts unite federal, state, local and Tribal health departments — including the Navajo Department of Health, Bureau of Indian Education, the Indian Health Service, in addition to state and local departments. 

The Nez-Lizer Administration will continue to coordinate with the county, state, and federal officials to monitor the evolving impacts of the coronavirus and continue to encourage the public to take precautions, states a Tribal press release. 

‘NIGA Stands Ready to Assist All Tribes’ 

Coming off a successful Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., the National Indian Gaming Association is preparing for a dynamic 2020 Tradeshow in San Diego, California, March 24-27. “As we prepare, the National Indian Gaming Association continues to closely monitor developments on the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States,” the organization commented. 

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. stated: “Our hearts and prayers go out to all areas of the country impacted with this situation. Our Tribes continue to monitor and prepare as information develops. The National Indian Gaming Association stands ready to assist all Tribes with this process.”  

The Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton, Oregon, is the only Tribal casino that’s been impacted by the coronavirus. The venue temporarily closed as an act of caution to protect the general public, and reopens to the public today, Wednesday, March 4 at noon. “Wildhorse confirms that a swing shift employee who tested presumptive positive for Covid-19 worked in a restricted area of the casino. The employee was not a front-line or food service staffer, did not have contact with the public, and had no reason to interact with the public. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, Wildhorse employees fall into the ‘low-risk’ transmission exposure category. In light of the national focus and well prior to notification, Wildhorse custodial services was already proactively swabbing all public touch points with increased regularity,” the casino commented on its site. 

The Indian Gaming 2020 Tradeshow in San Diego will commence on March 24th with golf tournaments at the Sycuan Tribal Nation. As the start date of NIGA’s show approaches, the organization has assured members it will continue to provide updates for the Tradeshow in San Diego, while monitoring the risk of the coronavirus. 

Chairman Stevens said, “Our tradeshow team is working closely with the San Diego Convention and Tourism Authority, as well as local hotels, to ensure preventive measures are in place to keep our attendees safe and surrounded by the best sanitary conditions available.”   

NIGA’s statement underscores that the 2020 Indian Gaming Tradeshow in San Diego is anticipated to be the association’s most successful event yet. 

“With 2020 being a Presidential election year, Indian Country’s issues must be front and center for all of our elected officials, but more importantly, all Tribes and Tribal Citizens must be engaged this year,” NIGA stated. “NIGA’s Tradeshow will focus on these important policy discussions and we will be rolling out our vigorous get out the vote campaign titled ‘My Vote WILL Count.’” 

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