This week on the Minnesota Native News health report, why some tribes across the state are shifting back to face masks when seeking tribal services. Reporter Dalton Walker explains in this week’s stories.
Don’t toss out or put away those face masks just yet. For some, it might be time to mask back up, especially those seeking tribal government services.
At least three tribes in Minnesota are requiring visitors to wear masks in tribal government buildings. The Bois Fort Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have recently issued mask requirements.
The decision is mostly related to the highly contagious delta variant that accounts for roughly 85 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state, according to health officials. The latest data shows Minnesota is averaging nearly 600 new cases per day.
Mille Lacs tribal officials explained this week in a short video aimed at tribal citizens on why the tribe brought back mask requirements. Nicole Anderson, the commissioner of Health and Human Services and Maria Costello, assistant commissioner of Administration, explained. The two were leading by example. In the video, they sat at a table inside and both were wearing masks.
“We do not enter into these decisions lightly and we consider the safety and health of all of our community members, employees and guests when we make these decisions. The latest information we received on the delta variant is that it is more contagious and it is spreading quicker than the original strain,” said Anderson.
“So I just want to say, be safe, mask back up, and make sure you are social distancing, good handwashing, sanitize, and if you are sick, please stay home,” said Costello.
Anderson cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its updated advice that fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission.
Be sure to contact your tribe for mask guidance if you plan to visit tribal government departments.
In other news.
Need another incentive to get vaccinated? How about money in your pockets?
Minnesota has taken the call from President Joe Biden and joined other states to hand out money for shots.
Anyone 12 years of age and older who receive their first dose of the vaccine through Sunday, Aug. 15, are eligible to receive a $100 Visa gift card.
To register, visit the state website at mn.gov/covid19. Youth ages 12 to 17 need a parent to register.
The CDC and the state health department recommend anyone not fully vaccinated, including children ages 2 and older, to wear face masks in public indoor settings, around other people and outdoors when social distance cannot be maintained.
For the latest coronavirus information, visit the state covid-19 response website and your tribe’s website. The CDC website is also helpful.
For Minnesota Native News health report, I’m Dalton Walker