Citing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases among Tribal members, Colorado River Indian Tribes’ Chairman Dennis Patch reinstated the Tribes’ “Stay at Home” resolution Dec. 24.
This resolution, No. 54-20, was first approved on April 1. It was modified to a “Safer at Home” resolution starting Sept. 1 as the rate of spread among Tribal members had slowed. At the time, the Tribal Council stated the earlier, stricter resolution could be reinstated if there were a large increase in the number of cases.
A statement on the Manataba Messenger’s Facebook page described the conditions and terms of the “Stay at Home” resolution:
A reservation-wide curfew shall remain in effect for all individuals from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the exception of travel for essential work or medical care. This includes Tribal members and non-Tribal members who live on reservation land.
All private gatherings, including wakes and funerals, of more than six people shall be postponed (excluding members of the same household). In addition, there is no non-essential travel.
Recreational activities are suspended. This does not exclude individuals or family units from walking around their neighborhood, playing outside in their yard, running or biking provided social distancing is practiced. This does exclude large groups playing group sports, contact or not.
The requirements of the Stay at Home Order are enforceable by issuance of civil citations with fines from $100 up to $1000 for intentional or repeat violations.
However, tribal enterprises and departments will remain operational with current safety protocols, including continued compliance with the reservation-wide face mask mandate.
The statement makes no mention of the Tribes’ biggest enterprise and main tourist attraction, the BlueWater Resort & Casino. On their Facebook page, the BlueWater stated that, “out of an abundance of caution,” they were cutting their hours of operation back from 24-hours per day to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hotel guests would be allowed access to their rooms if they provide ID.
The BlueWater returned to 24-hour operations in late November. They have been on a phased re-opening since September after being closed for almost six months since March 20. The gaming floor and table games have reopened, and the hotel is partially open. Many of the resort’s facilities remain closed. All special events have been cancelled until further notice. Face masks and social distancing are required.
The statement noted the “Safer at Home Resolution” required the Tribal Chairman to reinstate the “Stay at Home Order” if there was an 8 percent or more bi-weekly change in the number of coronavirus cases reported by Indian Health Services.
“There has been a 9.1 percent increase of cases reported as of Dec. 23,” the statement said. “Indian Health Services has reported 113 cases to date in December alone, which is more than the 100 cases reported August through November combined.”
As of May 14, there had been 14 cases among Tribal members. By late August, that had increased to 307. According to the latest official figures published on the Manataba Messenger website, there were 472 cases as of Dec. 19. Updates from the La Paz County Health Department have stated there have been 55 new cases among Tribal members since that date to put the unofficial figure at over 520 cases. Eight Tribal members have died.
“The health and safety of the people of CRIT must come first,” Chairman Patch said in the Tribes’ statement. “We cannot take chances with this deadly pandemic. We must all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading and these measures are the best way to accomplish that. I realize this comes during the holidays. But it’s better to take precautions now so that our family and loved ones will be with us for years to come. Many of our tribal member families are currently ill with COVID-19 and will be recuperating this Christmas and New Year holiday. Our thoughts and prayers are with each one of you for a quick recovery. We know we can turn the tide of this surge in cases if everyone stays at home with immediate family only and avoids all non-essential activities and travel.”