COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


 
March 28, 2020
 
We wanted to make you aware of recent decisions in response to the continuously evolving COVID-19 situation. We are temporarily furloughing some team members at Treasure Island Resort & Casino and our Tribal government. This difficult move was necessary once it became apparent that we would not be able to reopen Treasure Island or our government buildings until after the stay-at-home order is lifted by the state of Minnesota and Tribal Council. While we do not yet have a timeline for reopening, we know it will not happen in the next two weeks.
 
This news was shared with team members and may become public soon; we want you to hear about these decisions from Tribal Council, not the media.
 
Team members will continue to be eligible for their medical/dental/vision benefits but not their pay during the layoff. We are encouraging those impacted by the layoffs to contact the state about eligibility for receiving unemployment benefits.
 
While we wish these were decisions we didn’t have to make, the seriousness of the situation is forcing our hand. We must continue to do what is right to protect the health and safety of our Tribe, team members and guests.
 
We know the continued closure of the business will cause concern among some Tribal members. We will address those concerns during our upcoming quarterly. As a reminder, we are conducting the next quarterly using a videoconferencing service, rather than an in-person meeting. You’ll be able to log in to the service to watch the Quarterly and engage with Tribal Council members. Those who don’t have access to a computer can still dial into a phone number and participate in the Quarterly by phone.
 
We will post more information on our member-only Facebook group and the new piicinfo.org website about the Quarterly and how to participate. If you have any questions about accessing the site or Quarterly, please reach out to the Prairie Island Communications Manager at Rayanna.lennes@piic.org or call 651-267-4087.


 
March 26, 2020
 
Prairie Island Indian Community is taking extraordinary steps to keep our Tribe safe in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
 
As the Tribal Council continues to coordinate with Governor Walz on a government-to-government basis to participate in ensuring the safety of all Minnesotans, Prairie Island is issuing resolution 20-3-26-40. This stay at home order that will take effect on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 11:59 pm, and remain in effect until Friday, April 10, at 5:00 pm, or until the State of Minnesota lifts its “Stay Home” order, or by further action of Tribal Council. This order states that all individuals must stay home, with the following exceptions:
 
-Care for elders, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable people.
-Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
-To obtain medical supplies or medication.
-To visit a health-care professional for yourself, a family member or a pet.
-To get supplies to work from home.
-To buy food, pet supplies and essential household products for yourself, a household member or a family member.
-To go to work in an essential business or service as determined by your employer or a governmental authority.
-To engage in “outdoor activities” like walking, hiking, biking, running or walking a dog. “Outdoor activities” does not include use of recreational motor vehicles.
-To engage in spiritual or cultural activities.
-To engage in legal hunting, gathering and fishing.
-To care for a family member or pet in another household.
-Going to or from educational facilities to support distance learning or to get meals or related services.
-To engage in banking or other financial transactions.
-To engage in any other activity identified in the State of Minnesota’s EO 20-20 that is not identified in this Advisory, or any other activity defined by Tribal Council in subsequent advisory communications.
 
Please continue to check piicinfo.org (password: prairieisland) for the latest information. We will continue to keep you updated on events as they unfold. We continue to wish everyone health, well-being and strength during this challenging time.
 
TCRStayatHome1
 
TCRStayatHome2
 
TCRStayatHome3
 
TCRStayatHome4


 
March 20, 2020
 
Tribal members:
 
We are living in extraordinary times. Few of us could have imagined a scenario where life in the United States comes to a virtual standstill, and businesses, including our casino, were forced to close temporarily. But that is where we find ourselves today. While it would be easy to become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty, we cannot afford to let that happen.
 
We will get through this as a Tribe and a country by staying together, taking care of each other, and acting on accurate information, not rumor or speculation.
 
As your elected leaders, our most important responsibility is to protect your health and safety, and our Tribal businesses, so that our next seven generations can continue to thrive. The hard decisions we’ve made, including closing the casino temporarily, will help keep us safer.
 
We are all at risk from this pandemic, and we must take it seriously. We also must continue to protect those who are at the highest risk, our Elders. We’ve taken actions to protect our residents in Tinta Wita Tipi, and we need us all to commit to check on our Elders and make sure they are being taken care of and have what they need in this time of uncertainty. As taught to us by our Dakota ancestors, we encourage you to continue to pray along with sage and cedar in your homes, as they did in the past.
 
Most importantly, we each need to take care of ourselves and do our part to follow the guidance from health professionals to slow the spread of COVID-19.
 
We have created an easy-to-use resource to keep you informed and share the latest news and information with you. PIICinfo.org is a new website where our Tribal members can get the latest news and information about what is happening in our Community. This is a password protected site. The password is: prairieisland
 
On this site, which is now live, you will find several resources about our response, including:
-the Tribe’s declaration of emergency and authorizations of specific emergency powers;
-action steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy;
-information from Tribal administrative departments;
-information on how to access Quarterly meeting; and,
-links to outside resources.
 
As you know, we have a scheduled Quarterly meeting on Friday, April 3, at 10 a.m. We know that Members will want to hear about the impact of our decision to temporarily close the casino, as well as the other aspects of our COVID-19 response efforts.
 
We know this decision will raise many questions and concerns about the Tribe’s financial position, as well as per capita payments to our members. These are critical questions that we will address in more detail as soon as possible, but our priority is to take the necessary steps that protect the health and safety of our people, our team members, and our guests.
 
What we can tell you immediately and confidently is that our long-term fiscal discipline and strategy will help us manage a temporary shutdown. Of course, the closure will impact our business revenue and, therefore, the amount of gaming revenue allocations to members beginning in May. We advise all of our Tribal Members to begin taking steps to financially prepare for the near future.
 
Importantly, all per-cap checks will be mailed out during the temporary closure of the Tribal administration building. If you currently pick up your checks in-person and need to update your address, you must email Karen.Wohlers@piic.org by 5 p.m. on March 25, 2020.
 
Because the current situation prevents us from holding the Quarterly in our usual in-person format, we will try a new approach that will allow any member to participate, regardless of their physical location. We will utilize an online videoconferencing service to broadcast the Quarterly to members. You’ll be able to log in to the service to watch the Quarterly and engage with Tribal Council members. Those who don’t have access to a computer can still dial into a phone number and participate in the Quarterly by phone.
 
We will post more information on our member-only Facebook group and the new piicinfo.org website about the Quarterly and how to participate. If you have any questions about accessing the site or Quarterly, please reach out to the Prairie Island Communications Manager at Rayanna.lennes@piic.org or call 651-267-4087.
 
Pidamayaye,
Tribal Council


PRAIRIE ISLAND INDIAN COMMUNITY DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY
Tribal Council takes action to close casino, protect Tribal members

 
PRAIRIE ISLAND, Minn., Mar. 18, 2020 – The Tribal Council for the Prairie Island Indian Community declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced a series of actions intended to protect the health and safety of Tribal members, including closing the Tribe’s casino. Treasure Island Resort & Casino closed Tuesday evening and will remain closed for at least two weeks, after which time the situation will be reevaluated.
 
In a resolution, passed unanimously by the five-member Council, Prairie Island leaders said, “the Tribal Council recognizes the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as its obligations to the community and as an employer, and has been working diligently on implementing emergency action plans in response to this rapidly developing and changing threat.”
 
Before the emergency declaration, Tribal leaders had enacted a series of community mitigation steps, including:
• Activated our emergency operations center and formed a response team with representatives from the Prairie Island Indian Community and Treasure Island Resort & Casino
• Maintained daily contact with state and local health and government officials
• Intensified cleaning and sanitizing protocols at Treasure Island and across Tribal owned buildings
• Announced the temporary closing of the Tribe’s administration building, as well as the Community Center and Fitness Center
• Canceled all community events
• Postponed events and initiated new rules at Tinta Wita Tipi assisted living center, minimizing the threat of exposure to residents
• Postponed concerts and events at Treasure Island
• Enacted a travel ban on non-essential work-related travel for employees
• Adopted other workplace rules, including limiting visitors, banning outside food from being brought to share with staff, and limiting in-person meetings
• Initiated regular communication with Tribal and team members to provide updates on our response efforts
 
The resolution adds, “conditions pose a threat to the safety, health and welfare of the Community.”
 
The proceeds from Treasure Island fund Prairie Island’s government, including self-paid medical insurance for members and employees, education, and an elder assisted living facility.
 
“Gaming has allowed us to pull ourselves out of generations of poverty and a lack of resources,” said Tribal Council President Shelley Buck. “The decision to temporarily close the casino operations has huge potential consequences for the Tribe. However, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic requires us to do our part to slow its initial spread over the next critical 14 days.”
 
In passing the emergency declaration resolution, Tribal Council said it “intends to coordinate and maximize its efforts to appropriately address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including calling on all tribal, federal, state, and local resources for assistance with protecting our community.” Specifically, the resolution provides for the following actions:
1. Authorizes the Prairie Island Police Department, the Emergency Management Coordinator, and any COVID-19 response teams developed, in consultation with Tribal Council, to implement and execute all emergency plans, policies, and operations applicable to this State of Emergency, including but not limited to, compliance with the Community’s standard emergency operations plans and additional plans specific to the COVID-19 pandemic; and.
2. Directs all departments and businesses of the Community to assist, as appropriate, in executing the necessary mitigation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and this State of Emergency; and
3. Directs the Community, through Tribal Council or appointed staff, to seek assistance from the State of Minnesota, the Federal Government, and local governments, acting through all relevant agencies; and
4. Appoints and authorizes the Prairie Island Police Department and the Emergency Management Coordinator to act on behalf of the Prairie Island Indian Community in seeking aid and other resources from relevant agencies of the Federal, State, and local governments in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The emergency declaration stays in effect “until the emergency status no longer requires emergency response efforts.”
 

# # #

 
About the Prairie Island Indian Community
 
The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 30 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.


 
March 17, 2020
 
Today, we made the tough decision to close Treasure Island Resort & Casino temporarily. The shutdown begins tonight at 9 p.m. and is expected to last at least two weeks, through the end of March.
 
We all must do what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota and across the United States. Closing Treasure Island is a responsible action on our part. Team members will continue to be paid and health benefits will still be in effect during this two-week period.
 
We know this decision will raise many questions and concerns about the Tribe’s financial position, as well as per capita payments to our members. These are critical questions that we will address in more detail as soon as possible, but our priority is to take the necessary steps that protect the health and safety of our people, our team members, and our guests.
 
What we can tell you immediately and confidently is that the Tribe’s financial position remains strong. Our long-term fiscal discipline and strategy will help us manage and survive a temporary shutdown. The closure will impact our business revenue and, therefore, the amount we can share with members in the near term. We need to remain focused on our long-term health, both fiscal and physical. That’s why we made this decision.
 
We will share more information with you in the coming days, including our plans for evaluating when we can reopen the property. In the meantime, we appreciate your understanding and continued support.


 
March 17, 2020
 
Due to the growing COVID-19 outbreak, an additional action being taken to protect the health and safety of our employees and the Tribe is a temporary shutdown of the Dakota Station. The Dakota Station will be closed beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. The gas pumps will remain open 24/7 with pay at the pump.
 
We know this news may cause some inconvenience for Tribal members, and we apologize for that, but the health and safety of our Tribe and employees is the most important thing. Please contact a member of Tribal Council with any specific concerns.


March 16, 2020
 
We are posting new information regularly this Facebook page, as well as to our COVID-19 information pages. Please visit both sites often to see our updates.
 
The COVID-19 response team continues to work rigorously to exceed the guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have set in place.
 
We have determined that temporary closure of select services and areas is the best way to prioritize the health and safety of our Treasure Island team members and guests. We are assessing the most recent guidance issued Monday evening by the state of Minnesota, and additional closures may be announced following our review.
 
Property closures effective beginning 11:59pm on March 16:
 
– Bingo
– Poker Room
– Tradewinds Buffet
– Wave Spa
– Fitness Center
– Island Xtreme Bowl
– Xtreme Café
– No Tap Bar
– Cyber Quest
– Route buses
– Valet
– Coat Check
– Self-serve beverage stations
– Live entertainment in Parlay Lounge
– Oasis team member dining – foodservice suspended
 
Table games will be limited to three spots per table and social distancing measures will be implemented across the casino floor.
 
As we navigate this uncertain time, we remain confident in our preventative measures and action steps. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know of any additional changes.


March 16, 2020
Protecting our Tribe and employees is our top priority as we respond to the growing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
 
Today we are announcing several additional actions intended to care for your health and wellbeing, including:
 
-​ While the government will remain operational, Tribal administrative offices will close for at least two weeks, beginning Monday, March 23.
 
– The Community Center and Fitness Center will close on Monday, March 16, until further notice; all community events are canceled​.
 
– Access to the administrative building will be limited to staff only, beginning on Tuesday, March 17.
 
– Dakota Station will be closed, beginning at ​8 p.m. on March 18. 24/7 gas pumps will remain open.
 
Importantly, the closure of the Community Center does not affect the Health Clinic. Community and team members can still access the clinic for their health care needs. Please be sure to call ahead at 651-385-4148. If Tribal or team members need to visit the administration building or reach a staff member, they can call the main receptionist at 651.385.2554.
 
Making these critical decisions is not something we take lightly. While our buildings may close, our government must remain open and functioning. We are working with our department managers to develop action plans that ensure the vital work of our government continues.
 
We know that many of you will have questions about the impacts of these decisions, and we will provide more information to address your questions and concerns as soon as we can. For now, it is more important that we share the headlines with you so that you know we are taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all.
 
If you have any specific concerns, please bring those concerns to a Tribal Council member or your manager. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation as we will deal with this unprecedented challenge. We will get through this together.


 
March 15, 2020
 
We know the news reports and actions being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are concerning and many of you have questions.
 
Today’s news that Minnesota schools will close until (at least) March 27, along with brand new CDC recommendations, and announcements that several states have ordered commercial establishments to temporarily close, all add to the concern and confusion. We also know that some private and tribal gaming operations around the country have announced that they will shut down for a period of time.
 
Many of you want to know if similar steps are being considered for Prairie Island. We can’t predict the future, but we can reassure you that we are managing our response with the best interests of our Tribe in mind. Protecting our Community and team members is our top priority, and that is reflected in the steps we’ve already taken to address this growing outbreak. Our decisions and actions are aligned with the guidance from state and local health officials that is specific to Minnesota.
 
ACTIONS ALREADY TAKEN
• Activated our emergency operations center and formed a response team with representatives from the Prairie Island Indian Community and Treasure Island Resort & Casino
• Daily contact with state and local health and government officials
• Intensified our cleaning and sanitizing protocols at Treasure Island and across Tribal owned buildings
• Postponed events and initiated new rules at Tinta Wita Tipi to minimize the threat of exposure to our residents since they are in the highest-risk category
• Postponed concerts and events at Treasure Island
• Enacted a travel ban on non-essential work-related travel for employees
• Enacted other workplace rules, including limiting visitors, banning outside food to be shared with staff, limiting in-person meetings
• Initiated regular communication with Tribal and team members to provide updates on our response efforts
 
WHAT’S NEXT
Given the most recent developments, Tribal Council will be meeting tomorrow with our response team to assess current information and determine if any additional steps are required to protect your health and safety. We will be addressing topics that we know are on your mind, including:
• How our education department can assist students with remote learning needs
• Whether additional events and concerts at Treasure Island and within our community need to be postponed
• How the changing guidance may impact our team members
• Whether we will need to temporarily shut down the casino
• Whether we need to adjust team-member policies, such as sick time
 
We don’t have answers to all of these questions and concerns right now, but we are committed to doing what is right for our Tribe and our employees, and protecting the wellbeing of all.
 
YOUR PART IN OUR RESPONSE
Please continue to follow the simple preventative steps of staying home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently, and covering your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough.
 
Importantly if you, or a loved one, are ill make sure you call our health clinic team at 651-385-4148, or your local health clinic for instructions on how to care for yourself or a family member.
 
RESOURCES
The following are several resources you can use to keep yourself informed about the latest news and developments.
 
General information from the MN Health Department: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/materials/index.html
 
The current situation update information from MN, including the location of the current positive results: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/situation.html
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official COVID-19 information site:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
 
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know of any changes that could impact our Community. If you have any specific concerns, please bring those concerns to a Tribal Council member.


March 13, 2020
 
The past 24 hours have brought significant developments related to the nation’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. We want to make sure that you are aware of how these developments impact our Tribe and our response to them.
 
The situation is rapidly changing, and new developments will be reported daily. Currently, we do not believe it is necessary to send Tribal members a daily update. When there is significant news to share that directly impacts our Tribe, or our business, we want to make sure you know about that.
 
While the spread of COVID-19 and declarations of an emergency at the state and federal levels are alarming, the news is not unexpected. Health officials warned us to be ready for an escalation in the nation’s response, and that is what we are seeing. As health officials attempt to slow and contain the spread, it will mean new approaches and impacts at the community level, such as the high-profile closings and cancellations of events, not just in Minnesota but across the country.
 
Local and state health officials want to limit the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding prolonged close contact between individuals. Because of that guidance, we have postponed some planned events at Treasure Island, including tonight’s Foreigner concert. We will continue to review the evolving guidance to determine if there are other proactive and preventative steps we should be taking, including canceling or postponing other planned events.
 
Late this afternoon, we announced restrictions on all tribally funded, work-related travel for employees. This restriction is effective immediately. Only activities deemed essential to the government will be allowed. Additionally, we’ve instructed team members to take other precautions in the workplace, including:
-Utilizing teleconferencing or email correspondence, and limiting in-person meetings whenever possible if they require close contact
-Avoid bringing food from home to share at the office
-Attempting to limit unnecessary visitors, such as vendors, and attempt to conduct business through other means
 
We will consider similar precautions, as necessary, for any upcoming Tribal events to avoid prolonged close contact between individuals and encourage all Tribal members to do the same when out in public.
 
Your health and safety continue to be our highest priority as we monitor the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Please continue to follow the simple preventative steps of staying home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently, and covering your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough. Importantly if you, or a loved one, are ill make sure you call our health clinic team at 651-385-4148, or your local health clinic for instructions on how to care for yourself or a family member.
 
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know of any changes that could impact our Community. If you have any specific concerns, please bring those concerns to a Tribal Council member.


March 12, 2020
 
Nothing is more important to us than the wellbeing of our Community members. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious health risk to us all, and keeping you informed about our efforts to protect our Tribe and our business from the spreading impact of the disease is important. Equally important, is that you understand the seriousness of the situation and your role in helping to protect yourself, your family and your Community.
 
Today, the World Health Organization upgraded it’s classification of the Coronavirus from a Global Health Emergency to a Pandemic. That simply means that the WHO now recognizes that this disease has the potential to impact all people around the globe, not just those countries where the disease has been detected. WHO officials said the change was made to send a strong signal to all governments to take more urgent and aggressive actions to address the spread of this Coronavirus.
 
With several cases now confirmed in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including in neighboring counties, we share that sense of urgency and are doing our part to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health officials. We have a response team that is constantly assessing the latest information and managing our response. That team, which includes representatives from both the Prairie Island Indian Community and Treasure Island Resort & Casino, is approaching the situation from a variety of perspectives, including emergency operations, health care, facilities management, human resources, and communications. We are confident in the preventative measures and action steps we are taking, and will continue to monitor for any changes to official guidance.
 
Because they are considered a high-risk population, we have taken specific actions to keep our Tinta Wita Tipi residents safe and healthy by cancelling large group gatherings and outings, and encouraging limited outside travel for necessities only. We have not taken steps to cancel other Community or large-group gatherings at this time in accordance with that the Minnesota Department of Health is saying. That guidance may change and if it does we will share that information with you immediately.
 
The most important thing each of you can continue to do is to follow the common-sense preventative measures outlined by the CDC, such as staying at home if you are showing any symptoms of an illness; thoroughly washing your hands several times throughout the day; covering your mouth and nose correctly if you are sneezing or coughing; avoid touching your face with your hands; and, regularly wiping down and sanitizing surfaces of your home.
 
Importantly, if you or a loved one is ill, make sure you call our health clinic team at 651-385-4148 or your local health clinic for instructions on how to care for yourself or a family member.
 
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know of any changes that could impact our Community. If you have any specific concerns, please bring those concerns to a Tribal Council member.


March 8, 2020
 
We want to keep you informed of the latest information related to the coronavirus and our efforts to be prepared. The health, safety, and well-being of our Tribal members is our top priority. As you may have heard from news reports on Friday, Minnesota is now reporting its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The individual who tested positive traveled to an area where others had been infected and tested positive. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, people who came in contact with the individual are being instructed to self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
While this news is concerning, it is not unexpected, nor does it change how we are proactively preparing for and defending against this threat.
 
Health officials have been saying for days that every state should expect to see confirmed cases, and we have been preparing accordingly. We have a response team that is continually assessing the latest information and managing our response. That team, which includes representatives from both the Prairie Island Indian Community and Treasure Island Resort & Casino, is approaching the situation from a variety of perspectives, including emergency operations, health care, facilities management, human resources, and communications.
 
We will continue to make decisions based on the known facts and guidance provided by health officials, including those at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
The most important thing we can all do, according to the CDC, is to follow common-sense preventative measures, such as staying at home if you are showing any symptoms of an illness; thoroughly washing your hands several times throughout the day; covering your mouth and nose correctly if you are sneezing or coughing; not touching your face; and, regularly wiping down and sanitizing surfaces of your home and workplace. These healthy preventative steps are no different than what we should be doing all of the time, but especially during the height of the cold and flu season. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know of any changes that could impact our Community. If you have any specific concerns, please bring those concerns to a Tribal Council member.