CTUIR Coronavirus command team converted after ‘pandemic’ declaration

By Casey Brown of the CUJ

MISSION – CTUIR’s COVID-19 ICT (ICT) started out with a public health focus, but was converted March 12 to a pandemic response unit when the World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified Novel Coronavirus from “outbreak” to “pandemic.”

The group, which is comprised of Tribal government officials, Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center leaders, and officials from CTUIR entities such as Wildhorse Resort & Casino and Cayuse Holdings, will refocus from public health emphasis to pandemic response.

CTUIR’s Board of Trustees established the COVID-19 ICT to assertively protect the health and welfare of the CTUIR population and Umatilla Indian Reservation residents and employees, and they aggressively expanded measures to protect elders, vulnerable populations and adjust for continuity of essential governmental, community and commerce services.

A March 13 statement from the ICT lists their guidelines.

As this situation progresses, the statement reads, it increasingly appears that COVID-19 is now in the greater population, so taking immediate measures to slow its spread are imperative – especially to vulnerable populations.

Vulnerable populations include people above 60 years of age, people who may be immunocompromised or other chronic conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes.

The ICT will share information on a frequent and regular basis as quickly as decisions are made, the press release states.

The ICT has reviewed and considered all recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) as they become available, however, the CTUIR has the authority to choose how the guidance is used within the tribal community.

Current CTUIR guidelines as of March 13, 2020 at 4 p.m. are as follows:

  • All CTUIR and Yellowhawk community-based events, gatherings, meetings will be cancelled, regardless of size, until further notice.
  • It is strongly advised that all attendees of the Wildhorse Resort & Casino 25th Anniversary Fireworks Show on March 14 remain in their vehicles for the fireworks viewing.
  • The CTUIR Recreation program (to include community gyms) will be closed until further notice.
  • If you need to conduct business at the Nixyáawii Governance Center, it is highly encouraged to schedule appointments with the appropriate department prior to visiting.
  • It is advised that all residents of the CTUIR avoid travel over 75 miles. This advisory is important to protect the safety and welfare of the CTUIR community and surrounding communities.
  • If you have traveled beyond 75 miles, especially by air, the tribal governance suggests self-quarantine for 7 to 14 days and consult your healthcare provider if you show cold or flu symptoms illness.

There are community action plans currently being discussed by the ICT that will be shared once finalized. Those include:

  • Food delivery for youth during school closure.
  • Identifying elder needs for delivery of food and supplies.
  • Continuation of utility services for CTUIR residents.

The first presumptive positive case in Umatilla County was announced March 3 and was subsequently confirmed as positive by the CDC. A second case has now been identified, and the situation continues to progress.

The CUJ will continue to report on the developing COVID-19-related news via social media and our new website