WMAT goes back to Phase II

WHITERIVER — Monday, Aug. 23 at 5 a.m., the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) moved back to Phase Two of the Tribe’s Reopening Plan. The change was announced in a Friday, Aug. 20 press release.

The Tribe’s Reopening Plan consists of Emergency Phase; Phase One; Phase Two; Phase Three; and Modified Normal.

WMAT had moved back from the Modified Normal Phase to Phase Three on July 25 with a 10 p.m. curfew due to an increase of COVID-19 cases on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the prevalence of the delta variant in Arizona.

The WMAT Emergency Operations Center (EOC) stated in a Facebook post on July 26 that their numbers had increased by 16 since their Friday, July 23 dashboard numbers were released. Due to that increase, they stated they would be returning to Monday through Friday COVID-19 case number postings.

A Public Health Notification was issued by WMAT on Aug. 6 stating that the Tribe was being placed on high alert regarding the uptick in COVID-19 cases on the reservation. At that time, they reported that four variants had been detected on the reservation: 21 of the B.1.1.7 Alpha; 00 of the B.1.351 Beta; 02 of the P.1 Gamma and 08 of the B.1.351 Delta, for a total of 31.

EOC reported a daily increase of 21 positive cases on Aug. 19 and on Aug. 20 a daily increase of 18.

Phase Two includes the following:

  • All Tribal departments continue working on-site. Working from home is encouraged for those departments who cannot safely observe social distancing at the workplace.
  • Employees who have their own office are to report to work unless other arrangements are made with their supervisor.
  • Tribal Offices open to the public by appointment only according to policy.
  • Employee check-in and self-reporting protocols initiated in the workplace.
  • Site management practices in effect at the workplace.
  • Prevention/risk management practices in-effect at the workplace.
  • Home visits allowed in accordance with off-site work policies.
  • Employee Vehicle Use Policy in effect.
  • Tribal Employee and Resident Travel Policy in-effect.
  • Outdoor work may resume in accordance to Personnel Policies Addendum.
  • Public and Family Gatherings:
  1. Church services are allowed in accordance with Church Safety Plan. In addition to strictly following their Safety Plans, churches should increase ventilation by opening windows, doors, using fans, etc.
  2. Sunrise Dances are allowed in accordance with the Traditional Ceremonies and Gatherings Guidelines.
  3. Fishing is allowed in accordance with current Tribal ordinances and precautionary measures.
  4. Hunting is allowed in accordance with current Tribal ordinances and precautionary measures.
  5. Woodcutting is allowed in accordance with current Tribal ordinances and precautionary measures.
  6. Camping is allowed in accordance with current Tribal ordinances and precautionary measures.
  7. Cattle Association work is allowed in accordance with all precautionary measures.
  8. Tailgate is allowed in accordance with all precautionary measures at designated locations only.
  9. Birthday parties are allowed with no more than 15 people in attendance. Drive-up parties are preferred.
  10. Family gatherings are allowed with no more than 15 people in attendance.
  11. Indoor sporting events are allowed, and open to players only.
  12. Outdoor sporting events are allowed in accordance with Sports Events Guidance.
  13. 1-night wakes are allowed in accordance with Indoor and Outdoor Events Guidelines.
  14. Memorial dinners are allowed in accordance with Indoor and Outdoor Events Guidelines.
  15. Weddings are allowed in accordance with Indoor and Outdoor Events Guidelines.
  • (see Personnel Policies Addendum)
  • Exercise may continue. Masks must be worn when social distancing cannot be safely achieved.
  • Reservation-wide curfew in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

EOC states that vaccinated individuals can still get COVID-19 but are less likely to exhibit symptoms, and that vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are still contagious and can spread the virus. The Whiteriver Service Unit provides the COVID-19 vaccine at various community vaccine clinics or by appointments. Appointments for the vaccine can be made by calling (928) 338-5549.

As of Aug. 20, WMAT shows that 10,432 members have received the first Primer Dose of the Pfizer vaccine; 9,547 second doses; and 1,031 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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.

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