First COVID-19 Case Confirmed At Lac du Flambeau Reservation

May 21, 2020

Credit Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

  Lac du Flambeau-  The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal President Joseph Wildcat Sr. confirmed Wednesday the first case of COVID-19 on the reservation.

President Wildcat, Sr. says health officials are testing people who came in close contact with the person who tested positive. He reports so far rapid testing has been negative and those tested are not showing signs of being sick. All close contacts will be in isolation for 14 days.

Officials are following the protocols as Vilas county when the virus was discovered. President Wildcat, Sr. said they expected the virus to arrive and to remain calm. He encouraged people to practice social distancing and wash hand frequently. The Tribal Council and our Emergency Response Team immediately enacted a plan to limit the spread of the virus. Wildcat, Sr.  says they will continue to provide updates on the Tribe’s website to keep everyone as informed as possible.

The state Department of Health Services websites lists Vilas county has having had four other confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The text of the press release is below.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU—MAY 20, 2020—The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal President Joseph Wildcat Sr. today issued the following statement on behalf of Tribal Council regarding the first confirmation of COVID-19 on the Reservation

Thank you for allowing me a few minutes to update you about our ongoing battle against the coronavirus. We now have entered a new phase in the fight. Despite tremendous efforts and sacrifices made by many people in our community, there now is one confirmed coronavirus case involving a resident of Lac du Flambeau. We are in the process of testing people who came in close contact with the person who tested positive. So far, the rapid testing has been negative and they are asymptomatic or not showing symptoms of being sick. All close contacts will be in isolation for 14 days, following the protocols and monitoring for symptoms.

We’re following the same protocols as Vilas County enacted when they discovered the virus arrived. The last occurrence in Vilas County, up until this most recent case, we believe, happened in early April. Please remain as calm as possible. We expected this day to come and have plans in place. We need to continue to maintain social distancing and hand washing. These are keys to containing the spread of the virus. I want you all to know we are actively working with healthcare providers and community health experts. We are tracking and tracing people potentially exposed to the virus. They will be tested and instructed on what they need to do to prevent the spread of the virus.

Tribal Council and our Emergency Response Team immediately enacted our plan to limit the spread of the virus. We will continue to provide updates on the Tribe’s website to keep everyone as informed as possible. Please know that we’re working every day, every hour, to limit the impact to everyone who calls Lac du Flambeau home. As long as we’ve been battling this pandemic, we considered many different options to prevent the virus from reaching our home.

We collaborated with local, state and federal agencies to align funding and secure supplies in anticipation of the virus landing here. Our decisions remain a balance between providing services—and having the supplies to do it—while protecting our community from illness. Sadly—regardless of the countless hours of planning and prevention efforts—the virus reached our home.

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What can each of us do to help? Well, we now face a defining moment. This moment requires we work together now more than ever. For our elders, for our children, for the future of Lac du Flambeau and all who call it home—each and every one of us has a responsibility to monitor our activity. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands. Stay at home as much as possible. Act as if you have the virus to prevent the spread of the virus. It may not affect you. But if you are carrying the virus—even if you don’t show symptoms of being sick—it is highly likely you will give it to someone else.

We are a resilient people who overcome difficulty every day. Throughout our history, we’ve been counted out more times than I can remember. No matter the difficulty, however, we survive by working together. When we need each other most, we stand together. This is one of those times. When I think of our Tribe, I see a family. We help those in need. We care for the sick and frail. We take care of each other and our children. We do what we can to make life better now and for future generations. During this public health emergency, I’m seeing our values and commitment to one another coming out strong. In this spirit, please take safety precautions to protect people you may never meet. I’m pretty sure we all hope that those around us are doing the same to protect our loved ones. All of us are family. We may not always get along or agree on everything. But when lives are on the line, I believe we all will do our very best to help those who need us.

I’m proud of our Tribal Family for banding together to do what we must for the greater good of our community. I would ask everyone to continue to observe public health recommendations and encourage others to do so as well. Please do so with respect and dignity for each other. If someone has the virus—please remember—it could just as easily be you.

On behalf of Tribal Council, we are deeply grateful for everyone who is working day and night during this public health emergency. We fought to prevent it from arriving here. We prepared for this moment as much as a community can prepare. With this in mind, I’m confident we will get through this together. Miigwech! Stay informed at LDFTribe.com where there’s a dedicated coronavirus page with community updates and resources.

Our Mission: To provide leadership for the betterment of tribal membership and descendants in the areas of health, education, welfare, economic/job development and the protection of natural resources

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