It is with great sadness that the Northern Arapaho Business Council announces the deaths of four Tribal members due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), as confirmed today by the Wyoming Department of Health.
Each of the victims was a resident of Fremont County, and three were from the same family. The individuals include two Tribal elders – a man and woman – as well as an adult woman and adult man. Each of the victims had been hospitalized, according to the Wyoming Department of Health, and two of the four had existing health conditions.
These are the first confirmed deaths of Northern Arapaho members due to COVID-19.
“This is the day we’ve feared, and now all of the Northern Arapaho Tribe mourns the tragic deaths of four of our own,” said Chairman Lee Spoonhunter of the Northern Arapaho Business Council. “COVID-19 threatens us all – young or old, healthy or ill. This wicked virus even prevents us from gathering as a community to grieve the loss of these dear members of our Tribal family.
“Let this tragedy be a reminder to all Arapaho people: Stay home, stay safe, and protect yourself and your loved ones from this dangerous disease.”
The NABC continues to coordinate closely with Tribal health authorities, as well as local, state and federal officials. On March 11, before the State of Wyoming had declared a single positive case, the NABC issued an emergency declaration due to the threat of COVID-19, and eliminated all non-essential travel by Tribal employees.
All schools and public establishments are temporarily closed, and public gatherings of any sort are prohibited. The Wind River Hotel and Casino remains closed to the public until further notice.
On April 1, the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council enacted a stay-at-home order for all Tribal members and residents of the Wind River Reservation. That order, which remains in effect until further notice, has exceptions for Tribal members to seek medical attention or shop for groceries, medications or other necessities. Exempted from the order are essential workers, including: healthcare and pharmacy workers; 1st responders; public works and sanitation crews; grocery and food supply workers; financial services; and more.
Chairman Spoonhunter stressed the critical importance of Tribal members continuing to follow the stay-at-home order.
“As the weather warms, it’s natural that people want to gather with friends and family. Young people, in particular, may think they’re not at risk. They’re wrong. None of us are immune to this disease, and even those who don’t fall seriously ill may transmit the virus to someone who does. Please stay home, continue to follow all public health guidelines and help us protect Tribal members so that we don’t have any more terrible days like this.”
Common symptoms associated with COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If a Northern Arapaho member needs medical assistance, they are asked to please contact Wind River Family & Community Healthcare BEFORE coming in. Phone numbers are: 307-855-2966; 307-857-9489; or 307-856-9281 (option 2).
The Wyoming Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) advise that people can reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. Wash hands often. Disinfect commonly-touched surfaces. Cover your cough or sneeze. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people when in public. And wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public settings.
Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter’s address earlier today, April 21st, can be viewed in our earlier post.