BREAKING NEWS: CN confirms first employee with COVID-19
TAHLEQUAH – According to a March 24 all-employee email, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. alerted tribal employees that a fellow employee had tested positive for COVID-19.
“This afternoon, we had a positive case for a Cherokee Nation employee, a female in her 50s,” Hoskin stated in the email. “HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy laws require citizens not be identified, but know that staff who may have had any direct contact with the employee were notified, self-quarantined and are being monitored and screened.”
Hoskin stated that his administration is ensuring everything is safe in the CN workplace, and that tribal employees are protected.
“Our workplace has been thoroughly cleaned, and cleaned again under CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines,” Hoskin stated. “We have sent employees home to work remotely and are operating through email and phone. Again, we know this is troubling, but we’re inspired by your outpouring of support and ability to adapt as necessary. Our thoughts and prayers are with our citizens and their families who have tested positive and fighting off this virus.”
CN officials said the tribe is following all safety protocols recommended by the CDC and Indian Health Service. This includes CN health officials contacting those people who may have had direct contact with the patient.
All non-essential tribal employees went on work-from-home status on March 23.
Tribal health care professionals said they continue to urge citizens to practice social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from other persons – to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Other precautions include staying home unless travel is absolutely necessary, and washing hands often.
Before going to an urgent care or emergency room, unless essential, those who have symptoms of COVID-19 including cough, fever and respiratory problems such as shortness of breath should first contact their health care provider and ask for a nurse. The CN also has a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-833-528-0063 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.