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LCO Health Director Reports Covid at Highest Levels Yet; TGB Amends Covid Policies for Employees

By Joe Morey

News Editor


The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) issued a memo to tribal employees after amending the Tribe’s Covid-19 policies. The action comes after the LCO Health Director and Chief Medical Doctor issued recommendations that several tribal entities close for ten days. Those entities include the LCO Head Start, Early Head Start, Day Care and LCO Financial Services.


“We currently have 40 plus active Covid-19 cases in the LCO community,” reports Gary Girard, LCO Health Center Director and Public Health Officer for the Tribe. “We had ten positive tests yesterday (Nov. 1). This is the single highest daily infection number to date. We may see an increase in infections in the near future due to attendance at community gatherings, lack of face masking, social distancing, hand sanitizing and disinfecting.”


Girard also issued an alert recommending tribal members get vaccinated. He said the Health Center has scheduled Booster Vaccination clinics starting Wednesday Oct 27th, Nov 3, Nov 10, and Nov 17.


“Any fully vaccinated patient over 18 years of age, 6 months after their second dose of Pfizer and Moderna or 2 months after their single dose of J&J (Janssen), can call the health center to schedule their booster vaccine,” Girard said.


Girard also reported that currently there are no hospitalizations at this time.


“We are actively using Monoclonal Antibody infusions for patients with moderate to severe covid-19 symptoms. This treatment shortens duration and severity of symptoms,” Girard stated.


Still to date, there have been four deaths at LCO as a result of Covid-19.


The memo that went out on Tuesday, Nov. 2, is as follows:


Tribal Government Directors, Supervisors, and Employees:

We, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, sincerely hope everyone is staying as safe and healthy as possible during these unprecedented, unusual, and nerve-wracking times.

Due to a surge of positive cases, direct contacts, and short staffing, the Health and Medical Directors have recommended that the LCO Head Start, Early Head Start, Day Care, and LCO Financial Services close for a minimum of 10 days (effective October 29th), with communications and evaluations of the situation throughout these 10 days.

Due to these closings of HS/EHS/DC, some employees will need to be home with their children, grandchildren, etc. Because of these closures, the Tribal Governing Board requests that Directors/Supervisors allow their employee parents or guardians of HS/EHS/DC children to work at home or authorize administrative leave with pay during the closures.

We have been, and remain to be, in constant contact with the Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center's Health and Medical Directors regarding the number of positive COVID-19 cases, contact tracing, quarantining, and recommendations regarding our employees, programs, and businesses.

We issue this notice and make these decisions to provide safety to our People, our community, and most importantly our young people who cannot receive the vaccination.

Thank you for your help in combating this horrific virus. We will get through this.


Amended COVID-19 Screening, Travel, Symptom and Confirmed Diagnosis Policy

Effective November1, 2021

PURPOSE: The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (“LCO”) strives to promote a healthy and safe work environment for all employees. The purpose of this policy is to enable LCO to continue business operations while protecting employees from COVID-19. This amended policy, applies to all tribal entities, supersedes any previous policies and outlines the best practices in relation to screening, travel and for dealing with employees who either have a confirmed diagnosis or display symptoms of COVID-19. DEFINITIONS: o COVID-19 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that is transmitted person-to-person primarily through respiratory droplets. o COVID-19 Symptoms are subject to change and can be found at:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html o Confirmed COVID-19 Diagnosis is when an employee has been formally tested by medical professionals with approved testing techniques and a positive result is returned. o Screening is when employees are asked questions and have their temperature checked. o Self-Quarantine is when an employee who might have been exposed to COVID-19, potentially by being in close contact (as defined by the CDC), is directed by a medical professional, or their supervisor to keep away from others to help prevent spread of the disease. Employees who have been fully vaccinated, may not be required to quarantine after contact, unless they have symptoms, or are required to do so by a medical professional or supervisor. Fully vaccinated people should follow all recommendations of their health care provider. Employees in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their local health provider or the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Public Health Officer, as well as their supervisor. o Social-Distancing is maintaining at least six (6) feet social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes into sleeves or elbows, regularly cleaning high-touched surfaces, and not shaking hands.


DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Supervisors (Including government administration and directors) It is the responsibility of supervisors to support and oversee the implementation of this policy. They are responsible for setting the example and making certain that all employees follow the health and safety guidelines contained within this policy. In the event that an employee reports that they are experiencing symptoms, or if they have been exposed to someone who has, supervisors are responsible for notifying Human Resources (HR) and making a determination whether the employee should be sent home on administrative leave. Employees who are asked to leave work to quarantine at home by their supervisor will be given administrative paid leave, depending on the circumstances and the availability of funds. It is also the responsibility of supervisors to assess if telework is possible and to determine whether an employee should be approved or denied the opportunity to telework. Supervisors shall determine what kinds of tasks may be done by telework, ensure that the employee is assigned appropriate tasks, require the employee to check in with updates and that the employee performs the tasks assigned in a timely manner.

All Employees (Including supervisors) It is the responsibility of every employee to follow the Tribe’s required practices for protecting themselves, as well as others from the virus at all times (The Tribe strongly encourages wearing masks at work at all times and practicing social distancing, even for those who have been vaccinated). Employees may be required to be tested and must follow directives to do so. Employees are also recommended to monitor their temperature and are directed to report, in writing, to their supervisor immediately if they have a fever above 100.4, are experiencing any other symptoms of COVID-19, are caring for another who is in quarantine or has been diagnosed, or if the employee may have been exposed to someone who is experiencing symptoms or has been diagnosed as positive. It is expressly required that an employee report in writing (by email) immediately to their supervisor and HR if they have a confirmed diagnosis. Employees who develop symptoms at work must notify their supervisor in writing immediately and take measures to avoid coming into contact with others. Furthermore, all employees who develop symptoms or believe they may have contracted COVID-19 are required to be tested. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and have recovered may not need to be tested following an exposure, unless they develop symptoms, or are asked to do so by a medical professional or a supervisor. It is recommended that anyone with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 get tested, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection. Employees who are asked to leave work to quarantine at home by their supervisor may be given administrative paid leave. Employees are highly discouraged from engaging in any non-essential travel outside of Sawyer County. All employees who have been asked or referred to be tested by their healthcare provider, or state, tribal, or any other health department, shall do so. It is highly recommended that employees maintain social distancing of at least six (6) feet from any other individual as much as reasonably possible.


PRACTICES: Practices for Employees with Symptoms or for Employees who have Traveled It is at the discretion of the Tribe’s Executive Director and the employee’s supervisor to determine when the following practices are to be followed. Supervisors are responsible for the occupational health of the employees they oversee. Modifications to the sequence of the practices base don the needs and concerns of the employees and operations shall be requested in writing by a supervisor and must be approved by HR depending on the circumstances. 1. If an employee is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or reports to their supervisor that they are experiencing symptoms, the supervisor may request that the employee stay home and/or be tested. a. The amount of time the employee stays home depends on the symptoms being displayed and the ongoing health of the employee, as well as any recommendations from health care providers. 2. If an employee has traveled outside of Sawyer County, the employee may be required to quarantine for 10 days from the date they return, unless they are cleared to return to work earlier, pursuant to Section 4 found below. a. Personal Travel Quarantine - During the quarantine, employees are required to monitor their temperature and report to their supervisor. If possible, the employee may telework during the quarantine, however, all telework must be approved by a supervisor in writing. If an employee violates this policy and telework is not available or approved, the employee may be required to utilize PTO during quarantine. If PTO is not available for the employee to utilize, any remaining time in quarantine may be unpaid. b. Work Travel Quarantine – Any employee who is approved for work-related travel may be required to quarantine and/or submit to testing upon their return. During the quarantine, the employee will need to monitor their temperature and report to their supervisor. The employee will be paid during this quarantine and shall be required to telework if possible. c. All work-related travel must be pre-approved with adherence to the Tribe’s Travel Policy, as well as this policy. d. Employees shall immediately notify their supervisor in writing of any violation of this policy’s requirements. 3. In the event that an employee is required to quarantine, Human Resources must be notified immediately to ensure the correct documentation and compensation are applied. 4. Before an employee may return to work, one of the following conditions needs to be met: a. The employee has been home for 10 days since symptoms appeared, does not display any symptoms, has had24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, all other symptoms have improved, and is approved to return to work by a medical provider (all of the above factors must be present before return to work). b. The employee has a note from a doctor indicating another diagnosis that is not COVID-19. c. The employee’s COVID-19 test comes back negative after the 5-day incubation period and any related quarantine directive has been satisfied.

d. The employee submits a statement from a licensed medical provider verifying a safe return to work date.


Practices for Employees with a Confirmed Diagnosis of COVID-19


Information related to employees who have tested positive shall be held in the strictest of confidences. Only the employee’s supervisor, HR, the Tribe’s Executive Director and other personnel critical to carrying out the Tribe’sCOVID-19 protocols may know about confirmed cases. All employees must follow the same efforts to keep all personal information protected. Confidentiality must be kept by everyone.

1. Upon notification of a confirmed diagnosis to an employee’s supervisor and HR, the employee shall be sent home and the procedures for compensation, as well as telework, will be followed on a case-by-case basis, as is detailed in other sections of this policy.

a. All documentation from a health care professional pertaining to COVID-19 must be submitted to HR.

2. The employee’s duties and responsibilities will be assessed, along with identification of all the places the employee has been (to the best of the Tribe’s ability). Contact tracing may be conducted to determine any other employees or individuals who may have had interactions with the infected employee. During this process the name of the employee is not to be mentioned and all efforts will be made to maintain confidentiality. Any contact tracing or notifications related to this section will come from the LCO Public Health Officer.

3. Employees may be required to be tested, if possible and directed to do so. Employees who fall into a compromised demographic and who have had contact with the infected employee may be asked by their supervisor to be tested.

4. All surfaces and equipment where the infected employee worked shall be cleaned. Supervisors must notify maintenance to schedule professional sanitization.

5. All staff who may have come into contact with an infected employee shall be monitored to determine if any symptoms develop and may be required to quarantine.

6. Infected employees may not come back to work until they have been cleared by subsequent testing, a medical professional, and they shall provide documentation to HR, as well as their supervisor and are given a written directive from their supervisor to do so.


Accountability

Employees who do not follow the practices of this policy may be subject to disciplinary actions, pursuant to the Tribe’s Governmental Policies and Procedures (Title 14, Chapter 1), which may include documented warnings in their file, suspension and possible termination depending on the severity of the action or inaction.