COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Del Norte County – Reservation Residents Encouraged to Stay Home, Wear Face Coverings and Practice Physical Distancing
In the last three weeks, the quantity of COVID-19 cases in the neighboring Del Norte County has risen from 4 to 43 and is continuing to climb. Approximately half of the recent cases involved asymptomatic infections. Asymptomatic individuals do not experience any of the negative health consequences associated with COVID-19, but are carriers of the highly contagious virus and can unknowingly transmit the illness to others. While the County has reduced some limitations on movement, the restrictions put in place to protect Tribal elders and other vulnerable individuals on the Yurok Reservation remain in effect. Currently, all Reservation residents are required to practice physical distancing, stay home as much as possible and wear face coverings when outside of the home.
Additionally, the Reservation is closed and there is a curfew between 10pm and 4am These orders will remain in place until at least July 1. The Tribe is taking a more cautious approach in its response to this unparalleled public health emergency because a large number of Tribal elders and otherwise at-risk residents live on the reservation. The loss of even one community member to this currently uncurable illness is an unacceptable risk. The Yurok Incident Command Team is working around-the-clock to keep the Yurok community safe.
“Due to the elevated number of positive test results in Del Norte, it is more important than ever before for reservation residents to practice all personal safety measures. Under the current circumstances, every citizen is responsible for ensuring the safety of the whole community,” said Rod Mendes, the Yurok Tribe’s Deputy Incident Commander.
“We still need to stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing and wear PPE to keep flattening the curve. During infectious disease outbreaks of the past, rural places were hit last and suffered some of the most severe consequences because there are fewer healthcare resources and more people with preexisting medical conditions. We must all act together to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in the effort to protect the community from COVID-19,” said Kate Fischer, Ph. D, who heads up the Yurok Tribe’s Public Health Task Force.
In addition to performing all applicable safety precautions, the Yurok Tribe encourages reservation residents to practice following the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for stopping the spread of the virus. The recommendations include:
• Practice cough and sneeze etiquette (cover your sneezes and coughs with your arm) • Proper, frequent handwashing (20-30 seconds with water and soap) • Increased cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces • Avoid close contact with sick people • Stay home as much as possible even if you’re feeling healthy • Wear a face covering in public