In Chambers recently, you talked about what you called "the misery index" and the effect that it could have on the spread of COVID-19 in our area. What is the misery index, how is it related to the spread of COVID-19 and what can residents do to continue preventing the spread of COVID-19?

"The misery index”  is something I coined when analyzing and writing (before I left the Southwest) about the path that COVID-19 was likely to take in the U.S. regardless of our efforts to stop the spread.  We saw an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Southwestern and Southeastern United States from about June through August, the hottest months of the year there, and we are now seeing an increase in cases in the Northeast and Midwest where it has already gotten pretty cold.  When it’s miserable outside (cold or hot), people naturally tend to go indoors, and it’s easier to spread any virus indoors because of limited airflow, so it’s especially import to maintain social distancing, to wear your face covering, and to limit gatherings indoors as we head into the colder months on the reservation.  Doing this will help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

As parents begin to send their children back to school what do they need to consider in regard to COVID-19 and how should they ensure their children's safety?

While it is absolutely true that children are not generally as susceptible to the worst symptoms of COVID-19, they absolutely can contract COVID-19 and pass it on to others, so as children return to school, it’s extremely important that we as parents teach kids not just to social distance and wear face coverings but why they are doing this.  Sometimes we forget that children do much better when they know why they need to comply.  Teaching basic hygiene, properly mask wearing, simple things like giving other kids personal space (social distancing), and how important these are preventing COVID-19 infections are powerful tools.  Also, kids are more likely to contract and pass on influenza (the flu virus) than adults are, so getting kids vaccinated for the flu before or as soon as they return to school is very important.

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