KWSO News for 3/25/20

The COVID-19 Pandemic has seen its number go up in Oregon! As of yesterday at 8am, the total number of positive cases went up to 209 and 3 more deaths were reported bringing Oregon’s total number to 8. On Monday Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a stay at home order and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council issued a letter encouraging residents to “Stay Home, Save Lives” and minimize travel, noting that major roads will have signage that limits access to local traffic only. Camping, fishing, recreational activities at our parks, rivers, lakes, for non-tribal members are not allowed at this time. Although our numbers aren’t even close to the State of Washington, where 2469 cases have been positive with 123 deaths as of yesterday afternoon, the call to stay home is where experts believe we can combat the spread of the Coronavirus. Bend Mayor Sally Russell shares what she believes we need to do “So here in Central Oregon, we…we’ve gotta do our part, we need to stay home, we need to stay informed and we need to keep ourselves healthy, we need to stay healthy.  We all want to look back and say, we did this right, we did everything we could, everything in our power to stop this. That’s we want to be able to look back and say. So as I see it, this is our number one chance, this is our one chance, to limit its effect. We can never go back, but if we do this right, if we do this right now, we will limit COVID-19’s effect on our people and our businesses too. Right now, we can’t say that. Please join me and the mayors from across our region, from La Pine, Sisters, Prineville, Madras, Redmond and beyond and more, as we urge local residents to stay home. This is THE one action that could mean ALL the difference.” Mayor Russell was joined by other members of the Central Oregon Emergency Information network headed by Juliane Retman who urged Oregonians to come together during this time of need and follow the directions given by experts to help all of us combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic resonates for Northwest native people — whose history includes devastation by disease. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation has been responding to the current outbreak ever since an employee at their Wild Horse Casino tested positive for COVID-19.  Chuck Sams is the incident commander for the Umatilla Tribes as they fight the disease. He says his people have good reason to take the outbreak seriously: “The tribes have faced pandemic before; our last pandemic ended in around 1860, but that cost us nearly 90 percent of our tribal membership, lost to the measles between 1780 until 1860. That memory still lives on in many of us.” Sams applauds the governor’s executive order that Oregonians stay home as much as possible. His tribal government already had similar directives for their members. Sams says he’s been impressed with the local community’s compliance with the restrictions. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees adopted Resolution 20-028, basically to prohibit social, recreational gatherings and promoting social distancing. Their order extends through April 28, 2020. The Confederated Tribes of Yakama Nation also issued stay at home orders, stating that “Now is the time for dramatic action to protect our communities from this coronavirus.” Both tribes state in their order that Tribal Police will be enforcing the order and violators will face jail time or fines.

The Central Oregon Emergency Information Network team held a meeting yesterday to update people through live video communications. Dr. George Conway, Deschutes County Director of Public Health Service, talked about helping the health system and first responders by staying home and slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting your family and friends and ultimately saving lives. Sherry Helt, State Representative of District 54, talks about 3 things to know “One, the power to stop the spread of this disease and to save lives, rests with you. It’s up to each of us to lead. Second, social distancing works, washing your hand works, the recommendations from the CDC and Our public health officials work, take them seriously! The sooner we stop the virus, the quicker we can move to economic recovery. Together we can flatten the curve and get people back to work. Third, we have an urgent need to support our economy. The economy needs help now and it’s on the way from the state and federal government. Unemployment insurance for workers, low and no interest loans for small businesses, extension of tax deadlines and payments, renter and mortgage relief and assistance. If you are an employee that’s been laid off, help is on the way. If you are a business that has shut down, help is on the way. Congress will vote for a package that will bring relief and the legislature will meet in the next 10 days to do the same. Finally, let me underscore that we are All in this together.” the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council has approved a stoppage of work for two week starting on Monday March 30, 2020 in order to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. During that time only essential employees will be working. There will be paid leave for most employees, however there are some restrictions if you’re not a Full time employee.

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