Several tribes have voluntarily closed their casinos, including the Buffalo Thunder Casino and Resort. (Courtesy photo)

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Pueblo of Pojoaque is stepping up to provide temporary quarantine housing for New Mexico tribal citizens who are awaiting test results for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The tribe will offer rooms at the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, in Pojoaque, N.M., just north of Santa Fe.

The Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder houses a tribal casino that voluntarily closed as a public health safety measure to help stop the spread of the deadly virus. The hotel will only be taking in "low-risk" cases of pueblo and tribal members who have been referred by the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).

"Our goal is to prevent virus spread and reduce risk to tribal families by providing tribal members with potential illness, who are referred by DOH, a comfortable, safe place to stay," Pojoaque Pueblo Governor Joseph Talachy said in a statement. "Buffalo Thunder Resort is an ideal housing solution for this emergency situation."

Wednesday’s announcement comes on the heels of the State of New Mexico on Tuesday identifying clusters of COVID-19 cases at San Felipe and Zia pueblos. State officials said 52 people tested positive for COVID-19 at San Felipe Pueblo and 31 cases diagnosed at Zia Pueblo.

"Upon final approval for use of the facilities, the New Mexico Department of Health and the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will evaluate and direct low-risk tribal members who are awaiting test results or in need of quarantine services to Buffalo Thunder," Talachy continued in his statement. "The hotel is closed to the general public and is not accepting anyone else at this time."

As of Wednesday afternoon, only two people were being quarantined at Buffalo Thunder. 

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