The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Public Health and Human Services Division (PHHS) and the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority (CIHA) confirmed on the afternoon of Monday, June 22 the first COVID-19 associated death of an EBCI tribal member. The death occurred on Sunday, June 21.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed commented on the first death, “Our hearts are broken for the family and loved ones of the tribal citizen who lost their life due to COVID-19. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you in the coming days. I implore each of you to do your part to protect the health of our community; wear your mask, wait six feet apart, wash your hands often.”
He added, “We all share the responsibility to protect our elders and those with compromised immune systems. To this end, I will be issuing an executive order requiring that masks be worn in public spaces on the Qualla Boundary. This order will be effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26. In the interim, I strongly encourage each of you to wear a mask when in public.”
Vickie Bradley, PHHS Secretary, said, “We would like to send our condolences to the family and loved ones during this difficult time. The health of our community continues to be a priority, and we continue to ask everyone to be diligent with staying home as much as possible, wearing masks, washing hands often, and waiting six feet apart.”
Casey Cooper, CIHA chief executive officer, noted, “We are deeply saddened to report the news of our first death from COVID-19. We pray for peace and comfort for the family and friends and express our appreciation for the health care workers, who are committed to mitigating the tremendous harm this virus could inflict on our community.”
For information on COVID-19 or to schedule a test, call the CIHA COVID Hotline 497-3743.
– One Feather staff report