February sees small surge in COVID cases

Six news cases suddenly emerge; hundreds will receive first shot soon

By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ

MISSION – Despite more than 320 community members having received both Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, a small surge occurred as February began.

Six positive cases out of 10 tests were reported at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center on Tuesday, Feb. 2, reflecting testing that occurred on Monday, Feb. 1.

“This past week we had an increase in positive cases at the clinic,” Yellowhawk CEO Lisa Guzman said. “With that being said, it’s important people remember to stay diligent and keep taking precautions. Even after you’re vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands often.

“We cannot stress that enough.”

Yellowhawk has received 2,050 doses of the coronavirus vaccine thus far. By the end of February, officials expected 1,025 people will be fully vaccinated.

As of Feb. 2, 327 were fully vaccinated, and 150 were scheduled to receive their first dose. As of Feb. 1, 935 doses were left. There is no definitive date for receiving more doses, officials said.

Yellowhawk followed CDC guidelines to determine eligibility, starting with elders 75 and over; Health Center staff and CTUIR first responders; then elders 65 and over, officials said.

“Then down the line from there,” the hospital said in a statement to the CUJ. At one point, Tribal members and Yellowhawk-eligible patients 16 and older began receiving shots.

The vaccination plan is currently in Phase 3, according to officials.

“Overall the vaccination process has been smooth,” said Nursing Supervisor Shana Alexander. “Sure, there’s been pressure and we are strained just like every hospital and clinic throughout the country, but we’ve worked together and have been extremely organized in our efforts to get everyone vaccinated.”

Medical Director Dr. James Winde stated the distribution process has been well executed by Yellowhawk staff.

“We have not wasted one dose,” he said. “The vaccination clinic is set up so people maintain a proper distance from others with eight people scheduled every 15 minutes. After they get their vaccination, patients are required to stay for observation to make sure they don’t have any adverse side effects.”