Dear Tribal Members and Families:
We are in uncertain times with the spread of the COVID-19 disease nationwide. It has affected all areas of our lives - financially, physically, spiritually and mentally. There is no easy answer to be given by either the medical field or from our tribal leaders. What we know today is what has been conveyed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CCT has implemented preventative measures to keep you safe. They have asked everyone to stay at home when possible, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands frequently, practice preventative cough and sneeze etiquette, clean often used surface areas daily and practice social distancing. These measures are necessary to reduce the spread of the COVID-19. I caution you to not take these measures lightly. The Incident Command Center has been working diligently to provide resources and protocol for all tribal agency/organizations.
It is important to know what the signs and symptoms are for COVID-19. They can range from mild symptoms to severe illness. If you have come in contact with someone who has the virus, then the symptoms can appear from 1 to 14 days after contact. Most notable symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. To be extra cautious, if you think you were in contact with an individual that may have the virus, you can take your temperature daily, and if it is between 98 to 100.4 degrees and you don’t feel good, stay home and self-monitor for 72 hours. If your symptoms worsen, call your primary provider for medical advice. As stated by the CDC and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) elders and persons with medical conditions are more likely to suffer more serious complications from COVID-19. It is important to understand anyone can catch COVID-19, but there can be more serious consequences for family members who are at higher risk.
If you have signs or symptoms, please call your regular provider for further instructions. For mild symptoms, you may be asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. If your symptoms worsen, call your provider and they should give you further instructions. Presently, Colville Indian Health Service Unit and Lake Roosevelt Clinics have limited ability to test for the COVID-19 virus.
Because there are so many unknowns about this disease, this has created stressful times for tribal members and the communities. It has promoted fear, false and misleading information. First, we must remind ourselves that acting out of fear, anger or misinformation hurts everyone. Please do not use Facebook to get answers. You can call the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 509 634-7530. The EOC is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The EOC will be expanding services to assist with anxiety and fear due to COVID-19. When these resources become available, a notification will be advertised through the Tribal Tribune and other methods of communication. For more in-depth questions or services, a referral will be made to the appropriate level of service when necessary. Other informational resources are CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) and DOH at 1-800-525-0127 or https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus . The CDC website allows you to sign up for email updates.
Most importantly, you are primarily responsible for preventing the spread of the COVID-19. The basic instruction to prevent the illness is by avoiding exposure to this virus.
The CDC and DOH recommend taking the following steps to protect yourself:
- clean your hands often
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- put distance between yourself and other people.
Take the following steps to protect others:
- stay home if you are sick
- cover your mouth and nose with tissue to use the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze
- throw away used tissues in the trash, immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- clean your hands with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
If there are additional concerns or questions, please feel free to call me at 509 634-2437 or the EOC at 509 634-7530. Please everyone, stay safe by staying home as much as you can.
Alison J. Ball
Tribal Public Health Officer