Jaison Elkins, Tribal Council Chair, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

Jaison Elkins, Tribal Council Chair
Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, WA; Muckleshoot Indian Bingo in Auburn, WA
muckleshootcasino.com / muckleshootbingo.com

The COVID-19 health crisis has challenged the tribe in many ways, from operating our business enterprises in a pandemic environment to managing a large workplace. Closure of gaming facilities and making difficult but necessary adjustments to the workforce were both very impactful to the tribe but we have managed through those and other challenges successfully. 

The health and safety of tribal members, our employees, casino and bingo guests and the greater community has been the singular focus of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked closely with health experts and relied on science and data to guide our decisions. In the early days of the pandemic, the tribal council declared a state-of-emergency to activate our Emergency Operations Center and Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan to facilitate coordination of all tribal departments to reduce the spread of the virus. We also made the difficult but necessary decision to close casino and bingo operations, instituted stringent safety protocols in our workspaces and focused on continually monitoring coronavirus developments to support refinements to our approach as needed.

The Tribal Council’s decision to move forward with a carefully planned, phased re-opening of Muckleshoot Casino and Bingo in late May was made with the same commitment to protecting the health and safety of our guests and employees that drove the decision to close the enterprises several months earlier. The reopening program included greatly enhanced safety measures such as mandatory physical distancing and wearing of facemasks, deep cleaning and sanitation, use of a professional-grade, disinfectant backpack fogger, plexiglass shields in close contact areas, a thermal detection program to monitor guests for signs of illness, a limitation of table games and closure of some restaurants. The continuous monitoring of casino and bingo operations and public health data equips us to make any needed changes as more experience operating in this new environment is gained.

The casino and bingo reopening has been very well received by our guests, who appreciate not only the many gaming and dining offerings, but our strong focus on health and safety.

The only words of advice I would offer is to maintain a strong commitment to operating in a way that provides maximum protection to your tribal members, employees, and guests. These are challenging days for all of us, but I am confident that the resilience and strength tribal communities have shown over hundreds of years will get us through these difficult times.