How is the Yakama Nation doing with COVID-19?

Star Diavolikis, News Editor

With the delta variant of COVID-19 making its rounds in the United States, there is concern for how communities such as the Yakama Nation are doing. For an amount of time, the Yakama Nation reverted to Phase 2 of the Reopening Safely plan.

Phase 2 is part of the Reopening Safely plan, where the public has limitations on social gatherings both indoor and outdoor, work environments and so on.

Businesses within the tribe, such as the tribal courthouse, had reduced their operating hours in an attempt to safely conduct business. On a post made by the Yakama Nation Info Facebook page, the flyer created by the tribal courthouse states hours will be reduced to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and limited hours during these days.

The tribe announced on social media platforms that the Phase 2 stage would be reconsidered on Sept. 24, and on Sept. 27, a release was posted on social media stating that the tribe will move forward to Phase 3, per Resolution T-103-21.

“Today, the HEW Committee took action to move back to Phase 3 of the Reopening Plan due to the decline of positive cases seen at Yakama Nation Indian Health Services (IHS),” the release states. “This will remain in effect until further notice. Most notable, this marks a  return to regular work hours for the Nation’s workforce.”

The COVID-19 cases and death numbers have risen, but at a slower increase compared to past time periods. On a flyer posted on Yakama Nation Info on Sept. 27, there are 60 active cases, 242 close contacts and six new positive cases. The total number of COVID-19 cases within the Yakama Nation is 2,131.

Four members of the Yakama Nation are currently hospitalized, one member on a ventilator, and 56 tribal members have passed away. The previous update was posted on Sept. 24, with few differences in the statistics. On the Sept. 24 report, there were 67 active cases, 239 close contacts and 15 new positive cases. The total number of COVID-19 cases within the Yakama Nation was 2,125.

The Yakama Nation has hosted many vaccination clinics and released many promotions throughout the reservation. There have been vaccination clinics for influenza and COVID-19 for IHS beneficiaries almost weekly at the Yakama Nation Community Center located in Toppenish, WA.

Flyers are posted online and throughout tribal administration buildings that encourage tribal members to get vaccinations.

“This is your shot for your elders,” a flyer on Yakama Nation Info’s post on Sept. 25 reads. “The vaccine is safe, accessible, and free. Getting vaccinated has never been easier or more convenient, and now Native youth 12 years old and older – in every tribal community, in every corner of the U.S. – are eligible. #ThisIsYourShot to contact your local IHS clinic, doctor’s office, or pharmacy to inquire about opportunities to get vaccinated,” the same post reads.

The flyers promoting vaccinations vary on different important topics to the Indigenous culture, such as elders, protecting “Indian Country” and so on.

Tribal members can locate the information on the Yakama Nation website, however it is currently down, and on the Yakama Indian Health Service Facebook page or the Yakama Nation Info Facebook page.