Inside Twin Arrow Casino & Resort, Flagstaff, Arizona, date not specified Twin Arrow Facebook page, photo courtesy of St. George’s News
Windows Rock, Eris. (AP) – More than 1,000 people who work for the Navajo Nation’s gambling enterprise have been asked to prepare for the possibility that they will not receive a paycheck during an administrative holiday.
The tribe’s three casinos in northwestern New Mexico and one east of Flagstaff, Arizona, have been closed since March 17 due to coronaviruses. But the 1,180 majority Navajo employees remain on the payroll with benefits.
Brian Parish, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise interim chief executive, said the final decision on the layoffs would come over the weekend.
“It’s not certain that layoffs are going to happen, but we want to take precautions,” he said.
Parrish said the enterprise is running low on cash reserves, placing its stability as a risk. It has submitted proposals to tribal leaders for a portion of the federal virus relief funds that went directly to the tribal government. But tribal MPs are unlikely to take immediate decisions on how to allocate the remaining funds.
Payroll stated that gambling accounts for about 70% of the fixed cost for the enterprise.
Parrish said employees are on payroll for about 19 weeks to cover the debts of the federal paycheck protection program. He would not disclose how much the venture received, but figures released by the US Treasury Department showed a range of $ 4.7 million to $ 11 million for the four loans.
A skeleton crew, consisting of security, engineers and some management, will continue to operate. Employees who are not being paid will continue to receive health benefits, he said.
Jonathan Nez, president of Navajo Nation, closed the tribal executive offices by mid-August this week, citing the recent upsurge in reservation matters. The gambling enterprise has collapsed according to executive orders.
Tribal officials reported late Thursday evening of 50 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional death ahead of a weekend lockdown. The total number of people infected on the reservation was 8,734 with 432 known deaths.
Health officials said 75,775 people have been tested and 6,481 have been recovered from the virus.
Weekend lockdowns include closing the business which begins Friday after sunset and runs until Monday morning. The tribe has also implemented daily and night time curfews.
Residents of reservations spread across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have also been mandated to wear masks in public.
For most people, the new coronovirus has mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.
But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can lead to more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.
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