WIGA COVID-19 Communications

November 18, 2020

As Cases Spike in Washington, Tribes Take Further Actions to Respond to the Coronavirus Crisis

The Washington Indian Gaming Association wants everyone to understand the careful precautions tribes are taking to protect health at tribal casinos.  Tribal governments have been working on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, safeguarding highly vulnerable tribal members and neighboring communities.

CDC data shows that Native American populations are at an alarmingly high risk of having severe outcomes COVID-19. Tribal governments take these risks extremely seriously and are continuing to adapt their practices to protect public health.

‘Tribal leaders are alarmed by this latest surge in the virus and are making difficult decisions to protect public health,’ said W. Ron Allen,  ‘We continue to be advised by our healthcare experts and follow the latest data and science to guide our decisions.  Ultimately, each sovereign tribal government will determine how to best protect their community consistent with the Governor’s goals.’

Currently, all tribal casinos in Washington are operating at reduced capacity and with strict coronavirus prevention protocols.  Tribal governments rely on casino revenue to generate vital funds for basic government services such as health care, education, elder programs, infrastructure and human services. Casino revenue also funds services necessary to address the COVID-19 virus.

Tribes made the painstaking decisions to close casinos and many other business enterprises in March, but most reopened during the summer after carefully considering local circumstances and needs.  Since July, tribes have successfully implemented strict safety measures to protect employees, guests and nearby communities.

While coronavirus cases may be surging in Washington, there have been no major outbreaks linked to tribal casinos in the state.

Specific steps will vary by facility/tribe, but measures being taken by tribes include:

  • Further limitations on the number of guests to support physical distancing,
  • Mask mandates,
  • Additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols,
  • Enhanced ventilation and air purification,
  • Modifying dining operations and encouraging takeaway service,
  • Indoor smoking bans,
  • Employee testing,
  • Temperature checks, and
  • Additional physical changes to facilities to support social distancing and safety.

Tribes will continue to monitor the situation and adapt their practices appropriately to protect health, the economy, jobs and communities.

Since this is a rapidly changing situation with unique circumstances for each community, it is best to reach out to individual tribes to learn more.  A listing of tribal resources follows.

See below for information on the following tribal casinos:

Chehalis

Colville

Cowlitz

Jamestown

Kalispel

Lower Elwha

Lummi

Makah

Muckleshoot

Nisqually

Nooksack

Port Gamble S’Klallam

Puyallup

Quniault

Shoalwater Bay

Skokomish

Snoqualmie

Spokane

Squaxin Island

Stillaguamish

Suquamish

Swinomish

Tulalip

Yakama

Federal Resources

U.S. Department of the Treasury: The CARES Act Provides Assistance for State and Local Governments

Data Portal for Tribal Governments (CARES Act) – Updated 4.13.20

The Presidents Coronavirus Guidelines for America – 15 Days to Slow the Spread

https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/03/20/hhs-announces-upcoming-action-to-provide-funding-to-tribes-for-covid-19-response.html

http://www.ncai.org/initiatives/partnerships-initiatives/resources-for-indian-country-coronavirus

Washington State COVID-19 Updates

Governor Inslee’s Tribal Lands/Essential Activity Guidance Letter – Tribal Lands Guidance Letter

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/

https://aihc-wa.com/incident-responses-and-other-news/

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board COVID-19 Resources

http://www.npaihb.org/covid-19/