As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out across the country, Warm Springs is getting ready for its first shipments. Community Health Manager Katie Russell says the plans are underway for vaccines on the reservation:
“We are getting our vaccine from Indian Health Service (IHS), not from Oregon state, so our timeline is a little bit different than what you might be hearing other places. We don’t know a lot of things yet, but we are anticipating that we should get our first doses before the end of the year. We do know that our phase one plans will be front line workers. That includes people at High Lookee Lodge, and people who are working at High Lookee Lodge. There’s still a lot of things that we don’t know, but we’re getting things nailed down more and more and we’re hoping to have more information by the end of the week.”
Asked about who is a front line worker, Russell explained:
“Front line workers we are saying are people who work at the clinic, also EMS and the P.D. are definitely part of the front line workers. And then depending on how many doses after that, we’ll include other people who are essential workers, some of our Utilities and people doing deliveries, things like that. We are working on it and a lot of it will depend on how many doses we get initially.”
Last week in Warm Springs, there were a total of 67 new cases of COVID-19 on the reservation. The week prior there were 41 total cases and 35 the week before that. Russell wants to remind the community how important it is to take precautions:
“We are seeing a rise in cases so we are asking people if they could decrease their interaction with others who are not in their own household. I know that can be difficult, but we are really just trying to decrease the amount of people that people are around, so that if you were to become sick, you won’t be getting a lot of other people sick as well.”
A holiday youth toy/gift drive-thru event planned for next week is paused until the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Warm Springs decreases. It is still safest for everyone to stay at home. This year there will be no application process and the giveaway will follow all COVID-19 safety protocols. Stay tuned for details once a date is set.
The Oregon Health Authority on Monday reported 1,180 new coronavirus cases and six deaths. On Monday, the state received its first shipments of vaccines in a historic milestone to prevent COVID-19. State officials say it will take many months before a vaccine is widely available for all Oregonians who want it.