WMAT getting ready for second weekend lockdown

To slow the COVID-19 increases, WMAT begins a second weekend lockdown on Friday, Nov. 12 at 10 p.m. to Monday, Nov. 15 at 5 a.m. A quarantine station for those testing positive — with a letter — may take advantage of the quarantine site.

WHITERIVER — Efforts to curtail the number of rising cases of COVID-19 on the White Mountain Apache Reservation resulted in a weekend lockdown on Nov. 6. A subsequent lockdown is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12, at 10 p.m. until Monday, Nov. 15, at 5 a.m.

This week, following the Nov. 5 lockdown, the number of positive COVID-19 cases have declined each day. The White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) reported that reservation numbers on Monday increased to 81; dropped on Tuesday to 62; and on Wednesday, dropped to 49.

Lockdown limits all activities except hunting, with a current tag; religious gatherings — drive up Sunday church services and traditional Sunrise Dance ceremonies; medical visits; employment — including BIA Prescribed Burns; wood cutting which is allowed for home use only with a current permit. Prohibited are all non-essential household events; all funerals and wakes with the exception of graveside services; and children are strictly prohibited from entry into non-school and non-daycare related businesses and workplaces.

As part of the lockdown guidelines, all residents are encouraged to renew efforts to sanitize their homes and offices; COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are strongly recommended; and anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must quarantine along with their entire household.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 with a quarantine letter can check into the Isolation/Quarantine Site (I.Q.S.). Beds, restrooms, running water, showers and meals are provided. Anyone checking in must bring their letter, enough clothes to last through their quarantine as well as hygiene items such as a toothbrush, shampoo, body wash or bar soap. They should also bring any entertainment items with them such as puzzles and books. This is an alcohol, drug, and tobacco free facility and persons entering the I.Q.S. will be searched.

Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood went live on Facebook on Tuesday, Nov. 9, encouraging Tribal members to use caution and to avoid large gatherings. She reminded everyone that the Tribe is in Emergency Phase and that on Nov. 9 there are currently 324 active cases.

“Any off reservation gathering, your potential goes a lot higher because, as we all know, wherever else we go, people are not wearing their masks and they are being a little more relaxed about their protocols, so help keep our community safe,” said Lee-Gatewood.

Just one day later, Nov. 10, the number of positive cases rose to 357.

Later in the day on Nov. 9, a Memorandum was issued by Lee-Gatewood to all Tribal employees which outlined COVID-19 Precautionary Measures at work.

The memorandum urged Tribal members to maximize working from home for those who can, according to the Personnel Policies; masks are required while on duty at work or in a Tribal vehicle; visitors are not allowed at work without a prior appointment; work stations are to be cleaned and sanitized; all Tribal members are required to be vaccinated, including the booster shots; unvaccinated employees must have a Declination Form on file; department heads must post the COVID-19 cautionary measure guidelines throughout their departments as a reminder; employees are to practice social distancing as much as possible within their departments; and departments are to continue conducting employee check ins and temperature checks as employees report to work.

Tribal departments previously deemed essential remain so, along with any other mandates issued by the Tribe which includes wearing masks on the reservation for all Tribal members and anyone entering on reservation land.

Tribal members are urged to talk to their children abut COVID-19 vaccine since the Pfizer COVID-19 is now available for children 5 — 11 years of age. A series of storybooks are available for download at bit.ly/OurSmallestWarriors.

EOC’s Nov. 10 dashboard reports that as of Nov. 9, the Pfizer Vaccine has been administered to 10,924; 10,364 have received the 2nd dose; and 2,071 have received the 3rd booster dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been administered to 1,275. The Nov. 9 numbers put the Tribe at a 68% vaccination rate, just 2% points away from their goal of 70%.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

(1) comment


Keep the lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates coming. They're working so well![unsure]

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