By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The community of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is facing a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases due to gatherings, according to information from tribal officials. The Tribe has gone back into the Red COVID Risk Level (‘take strong measures to limit all contact’) with a total of 52 new positive cases since Friday, Sept. 25.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed took to the air to address the EBCI community following the announcement of 26 new positives on Monday, Oct. 5. “The past two weeks have bore witness to an exponential increase of COVID-19 cases in our community. The EBCI public health officials, particularly the Contact Tracing Team, have worked hard to investigate the modes of transmission in our community and have determined that we are seeing significant community spread caused by family gatherings.”
He added, “The Cherokee people are a social people that are driven by our love of family and community. I understand the desire to come together in fellowship, to celebrate life’s milestones and accomplishments. However, the Cherokee people are also a people that pride ourselves on our love and respect for the elderly.”
Chief Sneed implored everyone in the community to continue practicing safety guidelines in the form of the three W’s (wait, wash, and wear). “Now is not the time to be lackadaisical or to let our guard down. This pandemic is not over, and it poses a serious threat to our elders that hold the most cultural knowledge and the majority of our Cherokee-speaking population.”
The following are the numbers of positive cases reported on the days listed per the EBCI Joint Information Center (JIC):
- 7 on Friday, Sept. 25
- 12 on Monday, Sept. 28
- 7 on Wednesday, Sept. 30
- 7 on Friday, Oct. 2
- 26 on Monday, Oct. 5
The EBCI JIC reports the community breakdown of where the 26 new positive cases from Oct. 5 occurred: Wolftown 11, Snowbird 5, Big Cove 3, Yellowhill 3, Other 3, and Painttown 1.
The EBCI Public Health and Human Services Division sent out information to the public on contact tracing which states, “Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked for your direct contacts. This is very important to the Contact Tracing Team and our community to notify persons and families and keep track of this virus to prevent community spread. Remember to Wear, Wait, Wash and answer the call (844) 628-7223.”
The CDC states the symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing; fever or chills; muscle or body aches; vomiting or diarrhea; and a new loss of smell or taste. The Center urges people to seek medical care immediately if they exhibit any of the following: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake-up or stay awake, and bluish lips or face.
To schedule a COVID-19 test, call the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority COVID-19 Hotline 497-3743.