COVID-19 Spike Returns North Dakota Tribes ‘Back to Square One’

Positive COVID-19 cases in North Dakota have seen a significant increase in the last two weeks. Tribal officials in the state said that the recent spike is likely the result of July 4 weekend gatherings.

North Dakota ‘Back to Square One’

North Dakota noted a significant increase of positive COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. As a result, earlier this week, North Dakota state Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis said: “People are just getting relaxed, thinking things are fine. And here we are, back to square one with the tribes.” Davies outlined the recent turn of events as really concerning.

According to the tribal officials, the spike of positive COVID-19 cases was the result of the social gatherings around the Independence Day weekend in July. Results from testing in counties in North Dakota outlined that most confirmed new cases per capita were recorded in Benson County. Moreover, all 5 counties where the tribes are federally recognized have recorded high number of positive COVID-19 cases per capita in the last two weeks.

With that in mind, North Dakota is still near the bottom of the list when it comes to total positive COVID-19 recorded cases. Looking at data showing coronavirus (COVID-19) spread we see that there are some 7,500 people tested positive in North Dakota. This number is keeping the state far from the top of the chart where reported total COVID-19 cases in California, Florida and Texas combined ramp up to more than 1,5 million people.

The Peace Garden State Continues to Fight COVID-19

Earlier this year, similar to other states, North Dakota state and tribal officials introduced measures aiming at reducing the spread of COVID-19. The state also took the difficult decision to temporarily close its casinos. Although the restrictions managed to keep the COVID-19 cases low, similar to other states, spikes were observed. In that line of thoughts, Indian Affairs Commissioner Davis said: “This spike is just another wake-up call for the tribes that, hey, we need to get back to what we’re doing right.” But the tribes are not standing idle by. Recently, nearly 4,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted at:

  • Spirit Lake
  • Arikara Nation
  • the Mandan
  • Hidatsa

Furthermore, Spirit Lake introduced a mandatory wearing of masks and was joined by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. But given the current circumstances, state and tribal officials are facing a difficult decision. Earlier this year, the two month casino closure was aided with unemployment stimulus by the federal government.

It’s really challenging to determine what to do,” said Spirit Lake Chairman Douglas Yankton. Yankton continued by saying that some businesses just cannot afford to close down. Any closure would be felt by the people and the tribe when it comes time for paying of bills, added Yankton.

Elsewhere, this week the giant Wynn Resorts announced mass tests for its employees for COVID-19. The company announced its plan to test some 17,000 employees, which represents 98% of the workforce. In contrast, near the end of June, the company announced furloughs of some 3,000 employees at the Encore Boston.

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