This week on the Minnesota Native News health report, COVID-19 cases are increasing in Minnesota’s Indian Country. Reporter Dalton Walker explains in this week’s stories.
Unfortunately, positive COVID-19 cases are picking up again on tribal land just as our young people head back to school.
Most tribes in Minnesota are posting daily numbers on social media. In posts this week, Leech Lake had 45 active cases and White Earth reported 62 cases. Bois Fort reported 14 active cases while Red Lake’s latest report was 46 cases.
The recent numbers come as many tribes announced single digit positive cases for much of the summer.
The Red Lake Nation implemented a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for tribal employees. The tribe continues to encourage the vaccine and offers a $130 incentive for each shot.
Fond du Lac reported 22 positive cases this week, including seven between the ages of 5 and 17. The Fond du Lac Ojibwe School reported three cases this week, which included students in third, fourth and sixth grades. The school is offering virtual learning for those affected.
The tribe’s medical director Dr. Charity Reynolds said the community is going through a surge in positive cases amongst unvaccinated people, including those too young to get the shot. She said about 55 percent of the eligible community members have been vaccinated.
“It’s super important that we all get vaccinated and decrease the spread of COVID-19. Even though we’ve seen 1.4 percent of breakthrough infections, those people are still preventing going to the hospital and that’s super important because right now in our local area the hospitals are at max capacity,” said Reynolds.
Some safety tips offered by Dr. Reynolds include keeping your circle small, know vaccine status of those around you, wear masks and avoid large gatherings.
The Lower Sioux Community near Morton, Minnesota is yet another tribe implementing a mask mandate in tribal government facilities. Employees and visitors must wear masks even if vaccinated.
The mandate has been effective since August. Some of Minnesota’s largest cities like Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth require masks in city buildings.
The tribe also has a vaccine incentive program that runs through the end of September. For more information, contact the Lower Sioux Health Care Center.
Currently, 718 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Minnesota and 208 of those are in intensive care, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state hasn’t had over 700 occupied beds since April. Sadly, that wasn’t Malcolm’s worst news.
“And this is the highest number of people in ICs in all of 2021 so far,” said Malcolm
For Minnesota Native News health report, I’m Dalton Walker.
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