An Update to the Nez Perce Tribe’s COVID-19 Response
Lapwai, Idaho- Following the Nez Perce Tribe’s (Tribe) declaration of a Public Health Emergency on March 18, 2020, it continues to run its Emergency Operations Command (EOC) center under the direction of Incident Commander Marty Antone, Nez Perce Tribal Police Department (NPTPD) Captain. The EOC is currently operating at a response level higher than currently needed to ensure the Tribe is prepared for any potential increase in the spread of COVID-19 in our area.
“In law enforcement we are always preparing for a ‘worst-case scenario’, we are doing the same with our emergency operations. We want to ensure that no matter what happens, we have the resources in place to manage any crisis to the best of our ability,” said Incident Commander Antone.
The EOC team meets daily to debrief, discuss and address requests. The EOC is also working collaboratively with Nimiipuu Health, ensuring that emergency operations are assisting the clinic in meeting the demands imposed on it by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the request of the EOC, the Tribe issued a Stay At Home Order (Order) on March 27, 2020 in response to cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in this region. Idaho issued a similar Stay At Home Order. The Tribe’s Order does contain some additional precautionary measures that were not imposed by Idaho. The Tribe’s Order implements a curfew between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., requires adult supervision of children while out in public spaces, and imposes restrictions on cultural gatherings. These measures are being imposed throughout the Nez Perce Reservation.
The Order will be implemented through education and encouragement. While the Order is in effect, NPTPD Officers will work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of everyone. Community policing, which has always been a priority of the NPTPD, will be the foundation of this enforcement effort as well.
Despite the public health emergency, the Tribe is still open and operating to provide essential services to the public. All programs are operating under health and safety guidelines, such as social distancing, to protect staff; some with amendments to hours and service availability. Some essential staff are still working out of offices, those that can work from home are being encouraged to do so and staff that are not able to work at the office or at home are being placed on leave for the time being. The Tribe is also working diligently on ways to directly provide for the needs of those who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as elders and individuals with underlying health conditions.
“We will continue to march forward and do our best to protect the people in our communities,” concluded Incident Commander Antone.
The Tribe will be opening their COVID Response Distribution Call Center for Nez Perce families on and near the Nez Perce Reservation. The Response Distribution will be providing food and other supplies. The Call Center will be open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until further notice. (Call Center Phone Numbers: (208) 746- 4130, (208) 790- 1436, (208) 790- 1437, (208) 790- 1438, (208) 790- 1439)
For all the latest updates, news and health guidance related to COVID-19 from the Nez Perce Tribe, please visit nezperce.org, follow the Nez Perce Tribe on Facebook, or tune in to KIYE on 88.7 Kamiah or 105.5 Lapwai.