TAHLEQUAH -- During his report to the Tribal Council's Health Committee on Jan. 11, Health Services Executive Director Dr. Stephen Jones said COVID-19 infections hit nearly 28%, an "extremely high" rate.

To date, the Cherokee Nation has administered more than 86,000 COVID-19 tests.

"Last week, our test positivity rate was at 27.8%, which is extremely high," Jones said. "So, just to FYI that it is community spread, and obviously if you're sitting at a table with four people, one of you statistically has it. So make sure that you're aware of that."

Medications for COVID-positive patients include remdesivir, which requires an infusion, Jones said.

"We've treated over 400 patients with remdesivir," he added. "We have a monoclonal antibody called bamlanivimab. We've treated over 350 patients with that medication. It is an infusion also. Both those things require certain criteria to be able to receive those medications."

Jones also touched on a COVID-19 vaccine, which the tribe began receiving in December.

"Currently, we've administered well over 4,200 vaccines," he said. "We have people already scheduled for their second doses and we are continuing to schedule primary doses as soon as we receive them."

The first doses went to frontline health care workers, first responders, those involved with CN Elder Care and first-language Cherokee speakers.

"We are in the Phase 1B, which is the 65 and older," Jones said. "We have identified just in our system, we have over 27,000 patients that are over the age of 65. So we'll be in this phase for a little while."

The CN receives vaccine doses each week from the Indian Health Service, Jones said.

"We don't know for sure until a day or two before how much we're going to get," he added. "We are scheduling appointments for those to receive the vaccine to make sure we don't outrun our allocation."

Jones also recommended that tribal leadership get vaccinated.