The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe reported Dec. 1 that at least 13 community members had tested positive for COVID-19 following Thanksgiving holiday gatherings.
On its Facebook page the tribe reported that at least 50 people also had been directly exposed to the virus. That represents roughly 10% of the reservation’s households that will need to quarantine for 14 days.
“It did not need to be this way,” reads the Facebook post, recognizing that the virus has kept people away from friends and family so much this year and that it is especially hard to be away from each other over the holidays, but the virus is still out there and dangerous.
“While most people infected with COVID-19 recover, some don’t. With this disease, death isn’t the only terrible outcome: a significant percentage report debilitating symptoms lasting weeks or months. No family dinner or friend gathering is worth a life ended or indefinitely side-lined,” reads the post.
The post notes it was not trying to shame anyone, but instead encouraging the Port Gamble S’Klallam community to learn from this and remind them that now is not the time to let their guard down. It also reminded the community to be thankful for frontline workers, who have been working to keep the virus from spreading.
“We need you to continue to take this seriously. Staying home saves lives and ensures a lifetime more of gatherings, dinners and holiday celebrations. It’s what we all want, but that future is dictated by what we do now. Please do your part,” the post concludes.
In a news release to the community, the tribe encouraged members to get tested for COVID at the drive-thru clinic Dec. 2 at The Point Casino Hotel. It also noted that a negative test does not mean that you are clear of the virus, just that you did not have it at the time of test.
The tribe has had few cases to this point and took pride in establishing an early community testing site in May, the news release says.