Nez Perce Tribe Declares State of Public Health Emergency on Reservation

Lapwai, Idaho- The Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) has issued a resolution declaring a state of public health emergency on the Nez Perce Reservation due to the occurrence and imminent threat of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  An incident command team has been mobilized to keep abreast of the latest information and data related to COVID-19.  Incident Command along with the Tribal Emergency Response Planning Team (TERPT) will coordinate to establish resources, supplies, and response protocols.  “Although there have not been any confirmed cases on the Nez Perce Reservation, the Tribe feels this is a necessary precaution to aid in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” stated Shannon Wheeler, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. 


Additional measures have been put in place that correlate with this decision. The Tribe has cut down on the amount of staff in the work place by placing non-essential employees on administrative leave and is using social distancing as a response tool.  Additionally, vulnerable high risk populations have been placed on administrative leave. This includes employees that are 60 years of age and above, people with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other respiratory conditions. As an additional precaution, pregnant women and/or nursing mothers are also being placed on administrative leave. Essential employees that can telecommute are being encouraged to work from home.  However, the Tribe will continue to remain open with limited staff and public access. 


“Social distancing is the only proven way to slow the spread of the Virus, knowing that we will continue to err on the side of caution in an effort to protect the wellbeing of our staff, tribal members, and community,” said Chairman Wheeler. 


These actions follow a travel suspension placed on March 12 for all non-essential travel. Also a Resolution implementing safety protocols for sanitizing and proper hygiene in the work place. These will also continue in conjunction with the minimization of staff.


“We are all feeling the same emotions right now but we need to remain calm at this time. Risks remain low, but once again we want to err on the side of caution. Together we will get through this,” concluded Chairman Wheeler.