AIPI COVID-19 Update March 27, 2020

AIPI COVID-19 News Roundup #3

Coushatta Tribe and Vivera Pharmaceuticals Join Forces in Fight Against COVID-19 (March 24, 2020) 

Vivera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a California based pharmaceutical company, and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana announced a new relationship in the fight against COVID-19. The two are working together to gain FDA emergency approval for a novel rapid testing kit manufactured by Pharmact AG, a leading German manufacturer of rapid diagnostic testing kits. The CoV-2 Rapid Test provides results in 20 minutes, making it ideal for point of care testing and triage of large patient populations. "The CoV-2 Rapid Test brings visibility to this faceless foe so that our heroes on the frontlines--the doctors, nurses, and first responders--know where to take the fight and how to treat our fellow citizens who have contracted the virus," said David Sickey, Tribal Chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. Vivera and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana expect to begin offering the Rapid Test as early as this week under the temporary approval mechanisms set forth by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization guidelines. 

Umatilla Tribes Remember History In Struggle With Pandemic (March 25, 2020) 

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation remember lessons learned from their history with pandemics. Tribal leaders are urging the more than 3,000 residents of the reservation to comply with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “stay at home” order. Chuck Sams, who is acting as the incident commander for the reservation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, told local reporters about the disastrous impact disease outbreaks have had on Native people in the past. “The tribes have faced pandemic before; our last one ended in around 1860, but that cost us nearly 90% of our tribal membership — lost to the measles between 1780 and 1860. That memory still lives on in many of us,” Sams said. “It wasn’t because of genetics for the 10% that survived; it wasn’t because they were smarter than anyone else. They had just isolated we know isolation works. We’ve been explaining that to the tribal membership, that our history is repeating itself. And therefore, it’s imperative that you stay home, stay safe, stay healthy.” 

Cherokee Tribe limits access discourages visitors during coronavirus crisis (March 25, 2020) 

The principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, whose reservation is one of the largest tourist draws in Western North Carolina, is limiting access to tribal land and is urging visitors to stay away as the tribe rides out the COVID-19 pandemic. Principal Chief Richard Sneed on Thursday ordered the closure of all public access areas on tribal land and declared a state of emergency Friday. On Saturday, he ordered road access restrictions. He also issued a stay-at-home order for tribal members. “It cannot be overstated the seriousness of the situation that we face as a nation. We must all take this public health crisis seriously and do our part to protect our community by limiting our exposure,” Sneed said. “The intent of this order is to discourage out-of-town visitors from coming to Cherokee during the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Southern Ute Tribal Council closes border, issues stay-at-home order (March 26, 2020) 

The Southern Ute (CO) Tribal Council joined a growing list of Native Nations to issue a stay-at-home order and close the reservation’s borders. The orders came on Wednesday, exempting only essential travel and work. The tribal council authorized its mandatory social distancing order after declaring a state of emergency and a stay-at-home advisory in response to the increasing COVID-19 cases in La Plata County, according to the order. Though visitors include members of the general public, tribal government staff members, residents on tribal or trust land, and guests of tribal members are not considered visitors. According to a Southern Ute news release, the tribe had not reported any cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, while La Plata County reported four cases. 

Lumbee Tribal Council changes policy to allow remote meetings during disasters (March 26, 2020) 

The Lumbee Tribal Council updated its Duties and Decorum policy Thursday to allow for meetings to be conducted remotely in the event of emergencies. This comes as a direct result of the social distancing required to combat COVID-19. The previous policy prohibited Lumbee Tribal Council meetings, including committee and special called meetings, from being conducted via teleconference. The policy also prohibited council members from voting on any issue via teleconference during any meeting. The policy presented Thursday states that all meetings must be conducted in person except in the case of a tribe declared state of emergency, state declared state of emergency, national declared state of emergency or natural disasters that have occurred on tribal territory. 

CSKT, Lake County form unified command center to combat COVID-19 (March 26, 2020) 

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Lake County (MT) have joined forces to fight COVID-19 by creating a Unified Command Center, which is authorized to address the coronavirus threat in the community. The announcement comes on the heels of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lake County. Both the Tribal Council and the Lake County Commissioners voted to create the Unified Command Center which will combine and organize county and tribal resources to be more effective in the prevention of the pandemic. Team members will now meet daily to plan operations, sort out needed logistics, and smooth over organizational blips. “We’re stronger together than we are as individual governments,” said Shelly R. Fyant, Tribal Council Chairwoman. “This is the best way to keep everyone in our community safer.” 


Other online resources available

Indian Country Today’s COVID-19 Syllabus for the latest updates on the virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

National Congress of American Indians - Indian Country Resources: Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

IHS Coronavirus Page; IHS Announcements