By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Northern Arapaho tribal casinos, including the Wind River Hotel and Casino, will again temporarily close due to a spike in coronavirus cases across the state.
As of Friday afternoon, Fremont County had 401 lab-confirmed active cases and had seen 18 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, many of whom were Native American.
The Wind River Hotel and Casino, as well as all other tribal gaming facilities, will close at 12:01 a.m. on Monday and will remain closed through Nov. 30. Tribal officials hope to reopen the casinos on Dec. 1.
There will be no layoffs, furloughs or reductions in pay at this time. Casino employees will continue to be employed, though some may temporarily transition into other roles during the closure.
“We’ve seen no indication the casino is a source of virus spread in our community, but Tribal health authorities have urged the Business Council to temporarily close these facilities due to surging case numbers in Fremont County,” said Chairman Lee Spoonhunter of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. “This is a critical moment for the Arapaho people and all residents of the Wind River Reservation. If we don’t take responsible actions now – and if individuals don’t follow the guidelines and protect themselves and their loved ones – we risk losing to this virus even more of our sacred Elders, family members, friends and neighbors in the months ahead.”
Spoonhunter was diagnosed with the virus earlier this week, but has experienced only mild symptoms. He is in quarantine and continues to work on behalf of the Northern Arapaho tribe.
Some tribal departments will reduce their hours they are open to the public to prevent the spread of the virus. Some offices will temporarily be closed or conduct business via telephone.