Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and its aftermath, our tribe and casino continue to be successful in addressing the needs and desires of our customer base on a day-to-day basis. As a result, we have been able to navigate the first four months of 2021 successfully.
This is a time to remember and honor the ones who have passed, while learning more about injustices and generational impacts that are felt in all First Nations. We also are filled with hope that it can be an opportunity to advance reconciliation and renew relationships based on recognition of rights, respect, and partnership.
Tribes are making difficult and dramatic choices to protect our communities, tribal citizens and employees’ health and safety from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
Like many tribal and public casinos across the nation, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath is our Enterprises toughest business challenge.
COVID-19 has had a reverberating effect on our tribe and community as a whole. The pandemic has changed the predictability of the workforce, supplies and resources. Operating hours and standard operating procedures have changed to keep our team members and community safe.
Through a combination of official orders, broadcast briefings and personal appeals, the Seminole Tribe has been relentless in educating its members about the importance of staying home, social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing their hands and reporting the first COVID-19 symptoms.
We’ve incurred financial losses in the millions of dollars; we’ve had to furlough and lay off hundreds of tribal government and business employees; we’ve had team members and customers who have lost loved ones; and we’ve been forced to conduct operations in a whole new way throughout our organization, etc.
This crisis has brought our people together. We’re checking on our elders to ensure they stay home and are safe, and that those with underlying health conditions are not exposed. We’ve had people, even in the surrounding areas, make masks for us.
There have been many challenges in 2021, namely staffing and keeping our community safe; but, there have also been opportunities as it relates to CARES and ARPA funds. Tribal nations have never witnessed such a large investment into Indian Country and it is unlikely that we will ever see this again in our lifetime.
The impact from the pandemic has been felt far and wide, and our nation will be in recovery for months if not years to come. In March, we closed our tribal government and Foxwoods Resort Casino for the first time ever since opening over 28 years ago.