SAN CARLOS APACHE RESERVATION – On Thursday, the San Carlos Apache Tribe announced the incidence of two separate COVID-19 positive cases, both of whom are members of the Tribe but are not connected to each other. One lives off the reservation.
Previously, the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation (SCAHC) had accepted a COVID-19 patient from the Phoenix area, but this patient has no connection to these two new cases. The Tribe continues to track down potential COVID-19 exposures on a regular and routine basis.
In response to these two new cases and out of an abundance of caution, the Tribe’s Emergency Response Commission recommended and the Council mandated by motion the following:
- Continue all COVID-19 mitigation measures instituted by Resolution and Motion of the Council;
- Continue the stay at home directive, checkpoints, prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people, and CDC Guidelines for sanitizing and social distancing;
- Require mask-wearing or facial covering in public;
- Reinstate closures of running or walking access on public roads and upper elevation areas of the Reservation, including fishing, antler harvesting, woodcutting, mineral mining, golfing, skate and ballparks, logging and graduation parades; and
- Any resident of the Reservation failing to follow a direction of the SCAHC or a DHHS Public Health Nurse to quarantine at the Apache Gold Hotel, as the alternative care site for the Tribe, or to any other location off-Reservation, or for failure to follow the provisions of this motion or any prior COVID-19 related resolution or motion, shall be subject to criminal fines of nuisance or obstruction of governmental operations, or both, if an Indian, and civil sanctions in like amounts if non-Indian.
“Our Creator God has spared us through to this day,” said San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler. “Our government is doing all it can now. We need the people’s help now more than ever. We now also need our Creator God’s help. The Tribe has been preparing for this day for over two months. Thankfully, we have the necessary financial and medical resources. Everyone needs to cooperate with our healthcare professionals in dealing with these first cases, especially as to tracing contacts that these cases may have had with family, friends, employees, or others. It is my hope and prayer that all those infected will recover soon. Respectfully, everyone must ignore social media, unless it comes from the SCAHC or the Tribe’s government itself.”
“I received a comment from a constituent, which is telling. He said, that it is not in our Apache way to run away from trouble. We will overcome. All of us need to remain calm, be compassionate, and understanding. We need to remain in positive mind and spirit. This is not the time for blame. I agree. After all, these cases are members of the Tribe and they need their privacy, support, and opportunity to heal, and we need to work together in unity to beat this virus.”
Out of the two positives, about 80 people had direct contact with them, according to SCAHC CEO Victoria Began.
“This shows how easy this virus can spread, and demonstrates why everyone must wear masks in public, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, sanitize, wash hands, and remain socially distant of 6 feet or more from others,” she said.
All direct contacts and presumptively positive COVID-19 patients who are awaiting test results will be quarantined at the Apache Gold Hotel according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our PHN program will aggressively trace every contact that these cases may have had with their family, other employees, and the public,” said SCAT Department of Health & Human Services Director David Reede. “Those quarantined at the hotel will receive meals and regular health monitoring. It remains unclear at this time how these two were originally infected.”