Hoskin gains temporary contract power; states ease coronavirus guidelines
Sunni Wilson, a Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center senior lab technologist, works with the tribe’s rapid testing equipment for the most critical COVID-19 patients. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – With Tribal Council approval, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. now has greater authority to facilitate emergency contracts to obtain medical supplies and protective gear for the Cherokee Nation’s health care workers and elders.
A resolution temporarily allows Hoskin to bypass the Tribal Council’s contract approval process and approve specified provisions within such contracts. The provisions must relate to COVID-19 pandemic emergency relief efforts, and include only agreements addressing personal protective equipment; medical supplies and equipment; software and technology agreements to meet remote work and telemedicine requirements; and emergency food, supplies and equipment.
“This is a time that calls for cooperation and unity among government officials, and that’s what we are seeing in the Cherokee Nation,” Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez, said. “Weeks of careful planning, consultation, revision and review led to potentially lifesaving measures approved by this Council.”
Hoskin cannot agree to contracts worth more than $1 million, and must notify the Tribal Council within one business day of its issue. He is not granted any further budget authority, and the resolution expires on June 15 or with the end of the CN’s Emergency Disaster Declaration, whichever is sooner. The original declaration was to expire in mid-May, but can be extended.
“I appreciate the Council for its consideration in these measures to ensure our citizens are taken care of while we continue to battle this public health crisis,” Hoskin said. “The Council and I both understand that our citizens and constituents come first, and we need to act fast in retrieving goods to help keep our Cherokee elders fed, and make sure our health care employees and first responders have the tools they need to protect themselves while they can continue to care for our citizens.”
Since late April, some 40 states have moved toward relaxing orders that non-essential businesses close and people shelter in place. Epidemiologists and health professionals have voiced concerns that some states – most are seeing increased COVID-19 incidence – could see a resurgence in cases within weeks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend that all people wear masks, even if just made of cloth, when going into public places – grocery stores, pharmacies, drive through windows, and anywhere customers must interact with employees – and to maintain social distancing.
Local guidelines or laws to prevent transmission should be observed. Cities are moving at different paces under Oklahoma’s reopening, and COVID-19 has struck at varying intensities in various populations.
Though there is less evidence that masks keep people from contracting the virus, they do appear to impede its passage by infected people. The virus can be transmitted for up to two weeks – though 2-5 days is believed to be more common – before a person shows symptoms, and some people never show symptoms. Asymptomatic people could be contagious for up to 28 days.
The CDC says all masks should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, secured with ties or ear loops, use multiple layers of fabric, allow unrestricted breathing, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or changing the shape.
The CDC also recommends that when people leave their homes, they should thoroughly wash their hands for 20 seconds when they return.
In the CN, those with questions can call W.W. Hastings Hospital, the Health Services clinics and respective county health departments. For information, visit health.cherokee.org/corona-virus-covid-19
Health Services is tracking the incidence of COVID-19 at CN health care facilities.
Hoskin said the CN would follow the recommendations of the CDC, Indian Health Service and CN Health Services officials to inhibit the virus’ spread.U.S. Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov
· The CDC recommends caretakers keep an ill person in one room as much as possible; using a separate bathroom if available; and not sharing dishes, towels or bedding. Those who are sick should wear masks if able and caretakers should wear masks.
· The CDC also recommends washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, particularly after interacting with the ill person. Hand sanitizers of 60% alcohol can be used. Caretakers should avoid touching the face, clean all surfaces that are frequently touched such as tabletops and doorknobs, and thoroughly wash laundry.
· Visitors should be discouraged.
· Most people can treat symptoms with over-the-counter cold and flu medications.
· Symptoms usually subside in a week or less.
· The CDC says home quarantine without testing can end when an infected person has not had a fever for 72 hours without aid of a medication, other symptoms have improved, and at least a week as passed since symptoms first manifested.
· Those who will be tested can end quarantine when they no longer have a fever without the aid of medicine, other symptoms have improved, and they have received two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.Oklahoma State Department of Health: coronavirus.health.ok.gov
· The OSDH recommends calling a doctor or its call center (1-877-215-8336 or 2-1-1) if symptoms worsen. Emergency symptoms are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face.
· Otherwise, the department asks those suspecting coronavirus infections to treat themselves at home to conserve the availability of resources to those at highest risk, including the elderly, pregnant women and the immunocompromised.
· Underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes create a higher risk of serious complications.
· As of May 7, Oklahoma had 4,330 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 260 deaths. Reported recoveries totaled 2,985.
· Cases in Cherokee Nation counties were 68 in Adair, 29 in Cherokee, 13 in Craig, 92 in Delaware, 24 in Mayes, four in McIntosh, 27 in Muskogee, 21 in Nowata, 34 in Ottawa, 68 in Rogers, 13 in Sequoyah, 653 in Tulsa, 123 in Wagoner and 283 in Washington.