WMAT relaxes some COVID related restrictions

Reporting zero new cases on Sunday, Feb. 14, the White Mountain Apache Tribal council relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions last week.

WHITERIVER — The daily post on the White Mountain Apache Tribe Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Facebook page for Sunday, Feb. 14 regarding COVID-19 statistics, stated, “Our numbers increased by 0.”

As of Feb. 12, the Tribe reports that a total of 8,328 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 — 5,190 people have received their first dose of the vaccine and 3,138 have received a second dose.

The good news regarding no new cases was paralleled earlier in the week with another post shared by Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood which summarized a number of items passed by the Tribal council on Feb. 10.

Some of the items approved relaxed restrictions which were brought about by COVID-19.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 14, in-person church services were approved to resume. Church ministers were given timeline measures by the EOC last week. Church services are for Sunday only at this time.

Permission was granted for the 2021 Traditional Sunrise Dance schedule to resume with the caveat that all who plan a dance, even if within their own corn fields, must notify the council secretary in case an emergency notification becomes necessary regarding EOC guidance and protocols.

Traditional ceremony preparations (sweat bath, crown dance and head dress ceremonies) are allowed to resume.

The Theodore Roosevelt School will begin their reopening plan (in-person learning) on Feb. 22.

Whiteriver Indian Health Services (IHS) is to conduct a retrospective chart review of those who were hospitalized for COVID-19. The purpose of the study is to assess the characteristics and outcomes of patients hospitalized for COVID-19. The IHS physician team will glean information from the records of those hospitalized as they look at the details of the hospitalization to allow them to better understand the demographics, gender, age, peak oxygen saturation, morbidities and other risk factors that led to the patient’s hospitalization. Information obtained from the study will assist the Tribe regarding future outbreaks and their Native population.

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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