Going into the holidays, we have seen Gov. Jay Inslee institute increased public health measures and we know the Colville Reservation's public health measures remain in place. What precautions do you suggest for families in regard to Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season? 

This is a very hard question to answer, because family and family time, especially around the holidays, is so very important to who you are as a people and a culture.  By remembering that very fact, we can push ourselves to do our best to protect the people we love and give thanks for our ability to do what we can to protect the health of our families.  The question really is what does social distancing mean when you’re getting together with family?  Really, it means that we can protect our families by limiting our gatherings to small family gatherings with few people from outside of the household so we don’t inadvertently spread the virus to the very people we are gathering together to give thanks for, our elders and vulnerable family members.

What do people need to know about the recent increases of cases on the reservation and how can they continue to protect themselves?

Unfortunately, the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is not limited only to the reservation but is a nationwide challenge.  We are all having to continue to make tough decisions in spite of our growing weariness with the huge changes in life that have affected us.  The increase in cases is no one’s fault but rather was predicted due to the change in seasons and the fact that people spend so much more time indoors in the winter.  The challenge now is continuing to protect ourselves and the community while spending more time indoors, and that’s why it’s so important to continue to wear cloth face coverings (correctly, covering both your nose and mouth), to stay home and stay away from others when you’re sick, and to practice careful social distancing by avoiding large groups and group events.

  

At this point, we are several months into this pandemic. It is stressful. We've seen mutterings of "COVID fatigue." Do you have any recommendations how our communities can continue to protect themselves and combat "COVID fatigue"?

Honestly, who doesn’t have “COVID fatigue” at this point.  Everyone is tired of the many changes, changes that have made us insecure, compromised our family lives, our jobs, school, and even our health.  It’s totally understandable that we have “COVID fatigue.”  What matters is if we allow “COVID fatigue” to get the better of us and cause us to make unsound decisions.  The poet, Robert Frost, said “the best way out is always through,” and that is true with COVID-19.  We get through this together by doing our best to protect our families and the community.  It’s important that we encourage and support each other during these challenging times with kind words and understanding attitudes, encouraging each other to do our best to keep up the good work of protecting our families by limiting unnecessary travel, avoiding large groups, etc. and doing so knowing that we are protecting our communities and families

Celebrating Thanksgiving - Guidelines from the Center for Disease Control

Everyone Can Make Thanksgiving Safer.  Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Follow these tips to make your Thanksgiving holiday safer.  The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.  If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.

• Wear a mask

• Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

• Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.

• Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

• Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

• Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.

• Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

• Wash your hands

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.

• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

For further guidance:  cdc.gov/coronavirus

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