Nez Perce Tribe Proceeding to Stage 3 in Pandemic Response
Lapwai, Idaho- Beginning January 21, 2020, the Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe) will change its COVID-19 response to correspond with Stage 3 of the Idaho Rebounds guidelines. As of January 14, 2021, Nimiipuu Health (NMPH) had a 14-day average of less than one positive COVID-19 case per day and a positivity rate of 10.8%. This is the lowest rate since mid-September 2020.
Given the steady decline in positive cases, the Tribe has determined it is appropriate to begin following the protocols of Stage 3 of the Idaho Rebounds guidelines. The Tribe has been following the protocols of a modified Stage 3 since December 9, 2020.
The unmodified Stage 3 protocols permit gatherings of up to 50 people and non-essential travel. Safety recommendations will still require appropriate physical distancing, wearing a face covering, washing hands regularly, staying home if you do not feel well and sanitizing hard surfaces.
“We are pleased to see the decline in numbers. However, we have not forgotten how troubling this pandemic has been. Several tribal families have experienced tragedies and individuals who once tested positive are still suffering, some weeks and months later and we still have active cases among our communities. While we are slowly moving forward, please help us in staying vigilant and reminding others to do the same. We can only continue to progress, if everyone participates in the safety recommendations,” stated NPTEC Chairman, Shannon Wheeler.
“The community is doing an excellent job of following safety recommendations and with the Moderna Vaccine becoming more readily available, we feel progressing forward in stages is an appropriate move at this time,” stated NMPH Medical Director, Dr. Kim Hartwig.
NMPH continues to be ahead of the game in distribution of the COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine. As of January 15, NMPH has administered 588 doses of the Moderna Vaccine. Recently NMPH was informed by the Indian Health Service that doses of the vaccine being held in reserve by the federal government have been released and NMPH would continue receiving doses, and in larger quantities.
“We are thankful to be receiving these supplies of the vaccine so we can get them out to the community. Staff are working diligently to get the vaccine distributed as quickly as possible. We continue to follow the priority list guidelines and I am pleased to say we are already serving those 18 and older with underlying conditions,” stated Dr. Hartwig.
Active beneficiaries of NMPH have priority in all tiers as staff move through the vaccination lists.