Stephen W. Cope, Chairman, San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians

Stephen W. Cope, Chairman
San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians
Valley View Casino & Hotel in Valley Center, CA

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. We are not able to have events for our members, and all of our tribal departments have been impacted. A majority, if not all of the tribes’ employees, have been working from home, and it’s been difficult to take care of tribal member needs. 

Our strategy has been to provide enough information about the pandemic and provide assistance with masks, hand sanitizers and updated information from the CDC. Some of our elders are in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. It’s important to educate them, their children and grandchildren, how to deal with the crisis through the conscientiousness of washing hands and social distancing, as well as the importance of improving their overall health and standards of living.

We collaborated with eight other local tribes here in Southern California. The majority of us opened up on May 22nd after being shut down for 60 plus days. We are following CDC guidelines for health and safety with regard to masks, hand sanitizer dispensers, social distancing and limiting the number of gaming devices. We are only operating at 60% capacity overall and check temperatures at the door. Our experience has been wonderful and guests are pleased with the steps we’ve taken to assure their safety along with our employees and tribal members. Overall, business-wise, we’ve done well and our return customers are very pleased.

Each tribe is different, but it’s important to emphasize safety and precaution. I would urge them, if they want to be successful, to follow the CDC guidelines that were put out there in order to protect their customers, employees and membership. The last thing you want is to have somebody test positive that has visited your establishment. That could be very detrimental to your business and could hurt you overall. The best practice is to take every precaution necessary.