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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that COVID-19 cases, including infections, deaths, and hospitalizations, are on the rise in the United States. Currently, 75 percent of counties are in the medium or high levels with Omicron BA.5 as the predominant variant, which has caused an estimated 78 percent of new cases. 

On Tuesday, the Navajo Nation reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths for the Navajo Nation. The total deaths as of press time is 1,854 with 60,399 positive COVID-19 cases on the reservation. The Navajo Nation defines a new case as a positive test administered in the last 72 hours, but some tests are delayed because they are administered by the states or counties. 

“The Omicron BA.5 subvariant is leading to more infections across the country, in our region, and here on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a press release on Tuesday, July 26. “We have to keep our guard up and keep pushing back on COVID-19 together by encouraging our loved ones to be safe and taking precautions, especially in public places. Our best defense against this virus are the vaccines and the guidelines from our public health experts. We are in this together.”

As of last week, all employees for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma must wear masks while at work due to the rise in positive COVID-19 cases reported within the tribe. Cases of COVID-19 infections are not available publicly as of press time, but the Cherokee Nation’s employees were also notified that its COVID-19 Safety Premium Pay Policy is in effect again. 

The Lac Courte Orielles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Wisconsin) reported on Friday, July 22 that the tribe had 56 new cases of COVID-19, with all of the new infections being the subvariant Omicron BA.5. On July 15-17, the community hosted its 50th Honor the Earth Homecoming Celebration & Powwow, attracting thousands of powwow attendees and participants from the United States and Canada.

“The only way to assure that we do not get this subvariant is to practice social distancing, hand washing, and masking,” said LCO’s Health Center Director Dr. Steven Miszkiewicz in a press release. “I highly recommend that for the next few weeks, community members should avoid large and crowded areas indoors or outdoors, and to wear a mask any time they are near others.” 

The Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently in the orange level, as of July 25, 2022. The tribe reported only 11 new cases, with 7 of new infections being linked to the Omicron variant.  As of July 21, 128 news cases have been reported with no sustained increase over 5 consecutive days. The positivity rate, according to the most recent report, is 22.19 percent, but testing is below 30 tests per day and is insufficient to detect cases within the reservation. 

Businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation are operating at a 50 percent capacity. Schools on the reservation are operated with a hybrid plan and are instructed to follow tribal health orders regarding activities. 

“We are 1 indicator away from going into the Red Level,” said the Oglala Sioux Tribe in a statement. “Please take precautions: vaccinate, mask in public and around high-risk individuals, test, check for symptoms. Quarantine or Isolate if need be. If self testing be sure to report your results to the OST Public Health Authority. Take care Oyate.”

The predominant symptoms of Omicron BA.5 are sore throat, cough, fever, headaches, body aches, runny nose, head/nasal congestion, and fatigue, as well as loss of taste and sense of smell. 

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About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.