COVID-19 Update for Nimiipuu Health and the Nez Perce Tribe

Lapwai, Idaho- On May 6, 2020, Nimiipuu Health recorded no new positive cases of the COVID-19 virus. On May 5 fourteen individuals were tested and out of those tests, four returned positive. These new results bring the total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Nez Perce Reservation to 16 positive COVID-19 cases out of 53 tested. This daily testing is being done pursuant to Centers for Disease Control testing protocols.  The North Idaho Public Health District (District) is conducting contact tracing for each of these cases.  Nimiipuu Health is working closely with the District, providing all necessary data and ensuring proper protocols are being followed. 


“We are continuing to test, and are fortunate to have the capability to receive same-day results. We are doing all we can at this time to ensure the safety of everyone. We are learning more each day about the impacts this virus is having on our community,” stated Nimiipuu Health Medical Director, Kim Hartwig, MD.


Although the contract tracing is ongoing with each of these positive results, there is still no implication of community spread at this time. Nimiipuu Health has performed extensive testing for multiple individuals of a single household, which is not mandatory, but has been done as a precautionary measure. Due to the closeness of the community and the prevalence of asymptomatic cases, it was deemed a priority to test all individuals that were possibly exposed to a positive individual. 


“It has been my oath from day one to help protect our people. It was never a matter of if it would come here, but a matter of when. It is important to remember that this virus does not discriminate. Anyone is susceptible to contracting the virus. There is no individual, family, organization, or business that is at fault for the virus being in our community. We need to continue supporting one another and caring for each other. Everyone can do this by maintaining social distancing with anyone outside your immediate household, washing your hands, wearing a mask if you must go out in public, and staying home as much as possible,” concluded Dr. Hartwig.


With the uptick in positive cases, Nimiipuu Health has asked the public to be mindful of the subtle but devastating ways that COVID-19 can spread in a community.  A recent article in the Lewiston Tribune explained that an increase in positive COVID-19 cases could be traced back to children playing together. Experts noted that COVID-19 asymptomatic children can be a significant transmission vector of the illness in a community. This emphasizes the continuing importance of abiding by the Nez Pere Tribe’s ‘Stay At Home’ order and social distancing.