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Tribal and Indian Health Services volunteers took contact tracing an extra, lifesaving step as the pandemic peaked, instituting home visits to keep people out of the potentially overwhelmed medical system and ensure they did not relapse once they went home.

FORT APACHE INDIAN RESERVATION, WHITERIVER — In response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the White Mountain Apache Tribe (the “Tribe”) took wide-scale action to a slow the spread of COVID-19 on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (“FAIR”).

The Tribe implemented a 57-Hour Lockdown to be followed by a 2-week Shelter-in-Place Order; extended closure of inessential Tribal offices and departments indefinitely; established the Hon-Dah Hotel as an isolation and quarantine site; allocated additional funds for increased testing capacity; and banned drugs and alcohol.

The 57-Hour Lockdown began on Friday, June 26, at 8 p.m. and continued in force until Monday, June 29, at 5 a.m., and was followed immediately by a Shelter-in-Place Order in effect for two weeks, until July 13.

At the end of the Shelter-in-Place Order, the Tribe will revert back to its “Stay-at-Home Order,” which permits participation in essential activities, such as work for jobs designated as essential services, grocery shopping, exercising, and leaving to obtain medical assistance. Traveling to and from work during curfew hours is also permitted with proof of employment.

Additionally, the Tribe indefinitely extended its closure of Tribal offices for inessential Tribal employees and of the Hon-Dah Resort-Casino. This extension does not include further waivers of rental payments due to the White Mountain Apache Housing Authority.

The Tribe banned all alcohol on the Reservation until the end of the year and instituted strict penalties for violating the ban and existing prohibitions on the possession and sale of illegal drugs. A first offense carries a fine of $5,000. The second offense will result in a loss of Tribal membership benefits for the year, which include, but are not limited to privileges for hunting, fishing, wood cutting and housing. The third offense requires the Tribe to take steps towards exclusion of the violator from the Reservation. This ban on alcohol necessarily prohibits further alcohol sales on the Reservation by both Tribally owned and non-Tribally owned operations.

All other precautionary measures mandated by the Tribe since March will remain in place, including, but not limited to, the following: The requirement that masks be worn at all times in public; a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.; a prohibition on public gatherings; funeral and burial restrictions; postponement of religious gatherings; closure of the Tribe’s forests to recreational activities; and an Executive Order that imposes fire restrictions on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation due to dry conditions and high temperatures.

Per Executive Order No. 07202001, the following will be strictly prohibited until further notice:

• All woodcutting

• Building, maintaining, attending or using fire, except for residential

cooking fires;

• Debris burning

• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building; and

• Fireworks are always prohibited on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

These restrictions from Executive Order No. 07202001 will be in place until sufficient moisture is received across the Reservation.

“Once again, the Council knows that we are asking our citizens to make enormous sacrifices to slow the spread of this terrible disease. The Tribal Council has taken these strict measures with the goals of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and saving the lives of our people,” said Chairwoman Lee-Gatewood.

The White Mountain Apache Tribal Council continues to advise the public to take every precautionary measure, including the following:

• Avoiding contact with people who are sick;

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth;

• Washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol, especially:

• After using any bathroom;

• Before eating; and

• After coughing, sneezing, wiping eyes or mouth, or

blowing nose;

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces;

• Maintaining social distancing;

• Staying home when sick, unless seeking medical attention; and

• Covering coughs or sneezes.

Persons with symptoms or questions may call the IHS COVID-19 Call Center at (928) 338-5549 or contact the WMAT Emergency Operations Center at (928) 338-1704.

For more information, contact Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood or LeeAnn Mallow at (928) 338-1704, EOC Headquarters.

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