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BREAKING NEWS: Presumptive positive COVID-19 case at IHS facility in South Dakota

“An Indian Health Service patient from Charles Mix County, South Dakota, is presumed positive for COVID-19. Presumed positive means a sample tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 at a state or local laboratory. A sample is being tested at a CDC lab for confirmation. IHS is working closely with the state to identify anyone else in the community who has been in close contact with the patient and may need to be tested. At this time, there is no need for members of the community who have not been in close contact with the patient and are not showing symptoms to seek testing. The IHS will continue to keep our tribal partners informed as the situation develops. For more information on COVID-19 and how to prevent illness, please visit”

All IHS facilities are capable of testing patients for COVID-19. There is no cost to patients for this testing. Following guidance established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clinicians, including those at the IHS, collect samples with standard specimen collections swabs and access laboratory testing through public health laboratories in their jurisdictions. CDC guidance says clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, patient risk or exposures, as well as the clinical course of illness. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe announced a closure of all their tribal entities on March 11 on Facebook. They will be closed until March 13. Staff will return and offices will reopen March 16. Part of the tribe’s reservation sits in Charles Mix County.

The tribe is also closing the schools as recommended by the South Dakota Department of Health. The tribe could not be reached by Indian Country Today for clarification on which schools and more information.

“This determination was to allow those entities to thoroughly, clean and disinfect their offices, buildings and workspaces, equipment. It is best to use Clorox and soapy water or a disinfectant clean and open window to air dry, if no windows, then just air dry,” as the statement reads. “Stay away from gatherings and public activities if at all possible.”

yankton sioux tribe covid19

New Mexico has three confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of this morning. The first cases for the state.

“New Mexico should feel secure that we’re doing everything we can to address this public health emergency. The House passed a bipartisan funding bill that will help keep families safe and healthy, we are supporting paid sick leave and expanding food assistance for those who are struggling to make ends meet because coronavirus is impacting work schedules and incomes,” said Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency for the state during a press conference earlier today.

This is a developing story. Follow Indian Country Today for the most up-to-date, factual developments.

Indian Country Today is updating a list of Native events that are being cancelled or postponed, along with tribally-issued advisories. 

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