COVID-19 case confirmed in Makah community

Neah Bay, Wash.

Despite early and extensive efforts to keep the community safe, a case of coronavirus has surfaced on the Makah Reservation in Neah Bay, Washinton State.

A source from Makah Tribes administration office has confirmed that there is a case of the coronavirus in Neah Bay. Ha-Shilth-Sa reached out to Makah administration on July 8 to inquire about the story. The answer came in an email from an unnamed source, “Unfortunately, it’s true”.

TJ Greene, Makah tribal chairman, said that the person has symptoms but does not require hospitalization.

“They are being cared for at home, in the community and are under quarantine,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

In a March 13 public statement, Makah Tribe said it would close Makah businesses in an effort to minimize person-to-person contact and the spread of the coronavirus. They stated that these measures need to be implemented in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the Makah people and the Neah Bay community.

Greene says contact tracing for the COVID-19 case is underway and leadership in the community have resolved to tighten things up.

“We were starting to allow outdoor gatherings with social distancing measures but we won’t be doing that anymore,” he stated.

The Makah developed their own reopening protocols based on available information from government agencies, but have decided to go back to more stringent phases.

“Residents are not allowed to leave unless it’s for essential travel like medical visits or grocery shopping; our borders are closed to non-essential businesses,” said Greene.

Greene believes that their border security will be in place for the remainder of the year, unless a vaccine becomes available.

According to their website, there are about 1,500 people living on the Makah reservation in Neah Bay.

The Makah share a whaling culture with the Nuu-chah-nulth nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island and are closely related to the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht. They are located on the northwestern tip of Washington State, across the Juan de Fuca Strait from Pacheedaht territory.

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