The recent events concerning the COVID-19, also known as the “coronavirus” bring attention to the responsibility of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians tribal government to preserve and protect the health, welfare, and safety of the LCO members. The Tribal Governing Board and Health Center officials, as well as other tribal service areas have been meeting regularly to develop the response plan to address the COVID-19.
Today, March 16, 2020, Chairman Louis Taylor signed Resolution #17-2020 declaring the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Chippewa Indians is in a Medical State of Emergency.
The Tribal Governing Board convened a meeting Monday 16, 2020, of tribal departments and Casino Administration that met during the past week to draft and initiate the Emergency Operations Plan. This Emergency Operations Plan is a response to an emergency or urgent incident or threat. The Executive action authorizes and supports the Chairman to implement the Executive Order to carry out precautions and emergency measures utilizing all resources available to ensure the health and well-being of LCO Tribal members. The Declaration of the State of Emergency by the LCO Tribe will ensure that preventative measures are taken as necessary to prepare and protect Tribal Members should an outbreak occur.
As we work towards the care and safety of our community, the LCO Health Center, Public Safety agencies, Emergency Management, and Tribal Governing Board will keep our members updated with timely information. The contingency plan called the “Continuation of Operations Plan,” or COOP is a Living Document that provides direction as we prepare for the care and safety of our communities and enterprise.
Nationally, both President Trump and Wisconsin Governor Evers made declarations of emergency status for federal and state governments, and we are anticipating the release of emergency resources which local and tribal governments may access for the health and preparedness of our community as a result of COVID-19.
The Tribe’s declaration of a State of Emergency allows the LCO Tribe to access critical resources to aid with tribal preparedness expenses incurred resulting from the COVID-19. By issuing the State of Emergency for the LCO Tribe, we are committed to the preservation and protection of our tribal membership as well as the places where we attend school and work within our community.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elders, immune-compromised, and people with acute health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and lung disease, and other chronic disease are at risk of contracting the virus and may have a harder time fighting off the illness. Some individuals may then be more vulnerable, so it is a protective measure that the LCO Governing Board enacts the protections of the State of Emergency for the health and safety of our membership and the community in which we live.
We continue to coordinate and communicate our strength as a united community in this challenging time. There will be upcoming announcements with the Health Center and TGB to keep you informed. This letter is not to cause alarm, but to inform our membership how we can help to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. We will get through this crisis and these immediate actions are vital to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 to our community. By listening to the needs of the community through the ongoing and past discussions with our directors, we understand the necessity of the measures that are hereby enacted through the State of Emergency for the LCO Tribe.
Activation of the LCO State of Emergency Plan
1. The LCO Health Clinic, Public Safety, and the Emergency Team are enacted to provide assistance, resource information, and critical care as needs arise for patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
2. Effective immediately, the employees who exhibit illness symptoms such as flu-like illness should:
· Stay home and phone in to the triage nurse at the clinic.
· Call your director letting them know you are ill.
· Initiate self-quarantine measures within your home, i.e., limit exposure called “safe and social distancing” of the CDC’s recommended six feet from others within your household.
· Follow strict recommendations from your provider for your healthy recovery.
3. The TGB and Program Directors have cancelled the community events and non-essential travel till further notice. These include:
· All divisions and department of the government. Please contact your director for all further communication and updates.
· LCO Tribal school is closed as of March 17, 2020, until further notice. The LCO College will have students learn from home remotely. Essential staff will work on site while all other staff will work from home, per Dr. Swagger, President. Academic plans are being readied to meet the needs of the students and college-age student body due to the closure of the local and tribal schools.
· Remember the elderly, those who are sick or living alone and if they need support services i.e., food, groceries, and supplies, please contact: (715) 892-7572.
4. If you can work from home, please contact your directors if you are able to do your duties at home.
5. To protect our Tribal Members, a travel ban is in effect for all Tribal employees. We are encouraging the use of conference calling as an alternative to in-person meeting for those department personnel who may still be working. If you have returned from an area where there has been an outbreak, you will not be allowed at work for 14 days. Any employee returning from annual leave should check with their Director regarding the required disclosure of any travel to outbreak areas. This directive aligns with the federal travel protections due to the spread of the COVID-19.
6. The Emergency Response Team will distribute the safety information as we receive updates.
7. Food Services for the elderly and children are a priority. Tribal services and Health Care will continue with additional resources i.e., food baskets and delivery. We will provide these updates to you.
How we take can take care of ourselves in our homes:
We advise the following recommendations that all Tribal Members take as we address the COVID-19. Health officials are continually updating the information as the data and research through the CDC. What we do know is COVID-19 is spread mainly through person-to-person contact. The best safety precautions still involve everyday practices to avoid illness is:
· Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, sneezing, coughing, and touching your face.
· If hand soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% isopropyl alcohol.
· Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Cover your cough and sneeze.
· Frequently clean and disinfect touched surfaces daily. Use clean cloths. Open windows periodically to refresh the indoor air.
· Plan ahead for supplies and a 2-week food supply so you don’t have to go outside to grocery stores.
· If someone is ill within your household, designate a clean space for them, already prepared with supplies and prepackaged or covered food items they will need to minimalize the exposure to other individuals outside the home.
How we take care of our businesses:
8. To disseminate information, we will utilize the Tribe’s Facebook page and have established a COVID-19 Informational Page on the Tribe’s website at lcotribe.com/covid-19-tribal-information and the Health Center webpage lcohc.com.
9. Essential workers within our enterprises will adhere to COVID-19 protocols for their safety when cleaning or the workplace environment.
10. The Seven Winds Casino and Lodge are increasing cleaning and disinfecting measures, reducing occupancy space, and addressing health concerns to the Emergency Response Team as needs arise with the changing environment of the COVID-19.
The LCO Tribe is closely monitoring these events as we look ahead of the challenge that the COVID-19 has brought to our reservation. This situation has understandably created unexpected tasks, but we will meet each one to protect and provide safety for the health and wellbeing of our community. We are here to help our families during this challenging time.