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.
Our Council declared a state of emergency back in March and had zero COVID-19 positive cases on our reservation until May 27, largely because of strict mitigation measures. Since then, we have seen two surges and a recent softening in numbers.
Initially, we closed down our casino for two and a half months, and after we reopened, we moved forward with tough restrictions. Prior to COVID-19, our legal occupancy was just under 800, and since we’ve reopened, we are only allowing 425 people in the casino at a time.
COVID-19 has impacted us financially, socially, physically, and emotionally. We have had the challenge of paying bills and taking care of our tribal members as well as employees, when no revenue was coming in due to business closures.
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.
During this public health crisis, we worked tirelessly to communicate with both the tribal members and Rolling Hills Casino and Resort employees. Luckily, our planning processes considered such a disruption to our organizations, so we had virtual communications platforms already deployed allowing for operational continuity.
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.
This crisis has impacted our tribe considerably. About 140 of our members are elders, and many of them rely on the income generated from our gaming enterprise.
COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of the Community – everything from economic activity, community activity, to managing the public health crisis. Overall, there have been 23 deaths and nearly 588 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
We are a small community with a membership of a little over 1,300. We’ve had a number of members who have tested positive for the virus. Per capita-wise, we did encounter a high rate of the virus.