NESPELEM, WA – Governor Jay Inslee of the State of Washington issued an emergency proclamation to battle the COVID-19 virus on February 29, 2020. As part of the proclamation, he activated personnel from the Washington National Guard at that time.
A National Guard Bureau spokesperson said in a press release printed by the Military Times on March 13, 2020 that National Guard personnel have been activated across six states, including Washington, to stem the spread of COVID-19. The statement reads, “National Guard personnel will provide assistance to the states that include logistical support, disinfection / cleaning, activate / conduct transportation of medical personnel, call center support, and meal delivery.”
There is currently no “shelter in place,” or shutdown, order that applies to the Colville Reservation or the State of Washington. Other locations within the United States, such as the state of California, have issued “shelter in place” directives to their residents. While such an order could come in the future, Governor Inslee has said to date that now is not the time for an order in Washington.
Importantly, even where “shelter in place” orders do exist around the country, nowhere has there been a show of military force to restrict travel. The Washington National Guard issued a statement on March 19, 2020, which reads, “Emergencies are scary enough. Let’s not add to the fear by spreading misinformation . . . . Let’s put aside the rumors about martial law or military rule. IT’S JUST NOT TRUE.”
Rodney Cawston, Chairman of the Colville Tribes, said, “It is important for all residents of the Colville Reservation to remain calm and come together in this time of pandemic. Governments at all levels are bringing every available resource to bear in the fight to protect the public from this virus. Wild rumors only make a difficult situation worse.”