CHANDLER – U.S. Senator Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt met with Gila River Indian Community leadership Friday and viewed their plans to safely reopen the Community.
McSally and Bernhardt, both wearing masks, toured the Community’s COVID-19 testing site, funded by the CARES Act, which tests essential tribal government and enterprise employees. GRIC prioritized COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the pandemic.
In early April, McSally helped connect GRIC with the Mayo Clinic to ramp up test processing. The partnership led to an agreement that Mayo Clinic would process up to 500 tests per week for the Community’s most vulnerable population. So far, the tribe has performed over 5,500 tests.
The pair also viewed newly implemented safety measures at Lone Butte Casino, which began a partial reopening on May 15. Safety measures include regular testing of employees using the CARES Act funding, plexiglass barriers, and a Green Team of employees dedicated to constantly sanitizing the casino.
“It was an honor to welcome Secretary Bernhardt to Arizona and visit Gila River Indian Community with him,” McSally said in a press release. “We saw firsthand the Community’s dedication to public safety as they gradually reopen their economy. With the aid of the CARES Act, the Community has prioritized COVID-19 testing and become a nationwide model. After helping connect them with Mayo Clinic to ramp up test processing in April, it was great to tour their testing site. We also viewed the many safety measures put in place at the Lone Butte Casino, including plexiglass barriers and the Green Team, dedicated to constantly sanitizing the venue. The partial reopening of their gaming enterprises is great news for our economy and their many native and non-native employees.”