On the morning of November 9, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center reported four (4) new cases within the community. By the afternoon, an additional three (3) positive cases had been recorded, bringing the total number of active cases on the Umatilla Indian Reservation to seven (7), with the possibility of an increase in cases in the coming days. Yellowhawk Contact Tracing staff will be following up with all of these patients to determine who has been in contact with the individuals who have tested positive. The Incident Command Team, comprised of senior CTUIR Departmental staff from the Tribal administration, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, Tribal enterprises including Wildhorse Resort and Casino and Cayuse Technologies, as well as the Board of Trustees, is extremely concerned with possible increases and spread that may have taken place at family gatherings over the weekend.
Given this uptick in cases on the Reservation and with family gatherings impending over the holidays, the CTUIR administration, in consultation with the Incident Command Team, is implementing strict precautions to limit the number of people in the Nixyaawii Governance Center and other Tribal government buildings. Entrance to the government buildings will be restricted to only those staff and members of the public with an essential need to be on-site. Community members may still make appointments with tribal staff as needed for essential services, but the intention is to limit the number of people on campus in our government buildings to as few as absolutely possible. Yellowhawk is also in the process of implementing new access protocols to ensure the safety of our health professionals, which includes ensuring there are fewer patients in the facility at any given time. Many patient services and programs offered by Yellowhawk will remain unchanged.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Holidays are usually a time for families to come together to celebrate and reconnect. However, this holiday season, the CTUIR Incident Command Team emphasizes that any and all events should be planned with extreme caution to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In fact, guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and Center for Disease Control (CDC) emphasizes that it is imperative for families to limit gatherings to only those people in their immediate households in order to keep friends, other family members, and especially elders, safe this holiday season. The Incident Command Team will share more tips, ideas and CDC guidance in the coming weeks on how families in our community can still celebrate safely this holiday season.