Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians: New COVID-19 cases confirmed within reservation

The Tribal Council is working hard to enforce and enhance current health and sanitation directives, implement necessary technology and develop new programs and services centered on COVID-19 preparedness, response and relief.
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians seal.
Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians seal.(LVD)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 3:06 PM EDT
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WATERSMEET, Mich. (Press Release/WLUC) - The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians issues the following statement regarding confirmation of COVID-19 cases within the Reservation:

“With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Gogebic County, it was inevitable that additional cases would reach the Lac Vieux Desert Reservation. Late Friday afternoon, we became aware of at least two confirmed positive cases from a gathering Marenisco Township and now know that there are more from a recent funeral gathering on Reservation.

“As a government, it is imperative that we continue to provide services to the Tribal community during these trying times. While you may see modifications in Tribal Government, Tribal business and Lac Vieux Desert Health Center operations based on staffing availability and safety measures to limit exposure, it is imperative that services continue and that our businesses continue to operate in the best interest of the Tribal community.

“As has already been implemented at the Lac Vieux Desert Health Center and the Lac Vieux Desert Northern Waters Casino Resort, our new normal must include strictly enforced social distancing in every location; mandatory mask wearing in all Tribal Government offices and Tribal businesses; standing and random testing for employees and community members; increased use of technology to support: (1) the creation of a Reservation case reporting system, (2) real time text messaging communications to the Tribal community, (3) telehealth visits when appropriate at the Lac Vieux Desert Health Center, (4) virtual meetings and more; shift work to limit close contact; modified hours of operation and the development of programs to assist Tribal members and employees with confirmed positive test results.

“The Tribal Council is working hard to enforce and enhance current health and sanitation directives, implement necessary technology and develop new programs and services centered on COVID-19 preparedness, response and relief. To give these mandates the force of law, the Tribal Council has passed a mandatory mask requirement for employees of the Tribal Government and all Tribal Businesses, failure to follow this requirement will result in employees being suspended without pay.

“Regarding the recent confirmed positive cases, individuals who came in close contact with those who tested positive have been identified. Following protocol, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department was contacted immediately, and based on current CDC guidelines all close contacts will self-quarantine and monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last date of contact with any person who has been confirmed positive. Additional testing will continue throughout the next week.

“If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, a fever, sudden loss of taste or smell, dry cough, fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea or have been in close contact with anyone who has been confirmed positive or experiencing symptoms, or were in attendance at the Marenisco township event or the funeral on the Reservation please contact your medical provider immediately for further direction.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) defines close contact as anyone who has been in an enclosed space with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more with or without a mask within 48 hours of the confirmed positive test. 

“Both the Tribe and the Lac Vieux Desert Health Center have adopted and continue to follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and other credible sources. Health and sanitation measures have been implemented that include additional cleaning and disinfecting, pre-screening at every Tribal government office and Tribal business. New guidance continues to be received, reviewed, and implemented, almost daily, as the medical community learns more about the virus. Working together within the Tribe and with key stakeholders across the state and the larger United States, we are working very hard to stay ahead of any major outbreak and keep community members informed as quickly as possible.

“Please know that barriers currently exist to communicating information in real time such as patient privacy, availability of staff, and outdated communication methods; however, the Tribe is committed to improving communication and would welcome ideas from Tribal community members to communicate updates more effectively. 

“As previously advised, each of us plays a role to help prevent the spread of the virus. We must continue to work together to ensure the safety of ourselves and others. If you have not already made it a part of your daily routine, please: monitor your activity; maintain social distancing; wash your hands; wear a mask when out in public and take every safety precaution available to you as you continue on with your daily lives. Act as if you have the virus to prevent unknowingly spreading virus to others. It may not affect you, but if you are carrying the virus—even if you do not show symptoms of being sick—it is highly likely you will give it to someone else. We must continue to embrace that this is the ‘new’ normal. 

“The Tribal Council requests that as a community we are mindful of the pain that can be caused by social media. We understand that this is a scary time for all but we ask that people remain civil and treat each other with dignity and respect. Misinformation can tear us apart at this critical time. We need to act responsibly, stick together, support one another and take every precaution to protect the Tribal community. Please remember to be kind. 

“The Tribal Council remains deeply grateful to all that continue working day and night to ensure the safety of the Lac Vieux Desert community. Together, we will get through this.”

Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.

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