"While the United States flounders in its response to the coronavirus,
another nation — one within our own borders — is faring much better.
With a mask mandate in place since spring, free drive-through testing,
hospitals well-stocked with PPE, and a small army of public health
officers fully supported by their chief, the Cherokee Nation has been
able to curtail its Covid-19 case and death rates even as those numbers
surge in surrounding Oklahoma, where the White House coronavirus task
force says spread is unyielding.
Elsewhere in the U.S., tribal areas have been hit hard by the virus. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that American Indian
and Alaskan Native populations have case rates 3.5 times higher than
that of white individuals. The Navajo Nation, where Covid testing, PPE,
and sometimes even running water are in short supply, has seen nearly
13,000 cases and 602 deaths among its roughly 170,000 citizens. The
Cherokee Nation, with about 140,000 citizens on its reservation in
northeastern Oklahoma, has reported just over 4,000 cases and 33 deaths.
“It’s dire, but what in the world would it look like if we weren’t doing
this work?’” said Lisa Pivec, senior director of public health for
Cherokee Nation Health Services. Pivec leads a team that jumped into
action in late February, holding coronavirus task force meetings twice a
day, instituting procedures to screen thousands of employees,
stockpiling PPE, protecting elders, ensuring food security, and
educating residents in both English and Cherokee language. With no
guidance on contact tracing available from the CDC early in the
pandemic, Pivec researched the World Health Organization’s Ebola
response to set up tracing protocols; after the first case appeared on
the reservation March 24, she made many of the contact tracing calls
Via Frederick Wilson II.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics