Northern Arapaho Tribe Reports Four COVID-19 Deaths; State Health Department Has Yet to Confirm
The Chairman of the Northern Arapaho Tribe said Tuesday that four tribal members died from COVID-19 on Monday.
"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the Northerns Arapaho Tribe confirms the deaths of four of our own who tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19," Lee Spoonhunter of the tribe's business council said by videoconference on the tribe's Facebook page.
Two of the four were elders and had reached the fourth ridge of their lives, Spoonhunter said.
"When reaching this ridge, in our Arapaho belief, Creator takes us immediately back into his loving arms, therefore we take solace and comfort in that," he said. "However, this does not discount the tremendous losses to our tribe."
The Wyoming Department of Health's website has reported the state's first two deaths last week, and reported the four new ones Tuesday afternoon.
Fremont County had an initial spike of confirmed cases and that number on Monday was 51 with six probable cases. Probable cases are defined as close contacts of lab-confirmed cases with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Statewide, the Department of Health on Monday reported 317 confirmed cases with Laramie having the most at 73 followed by Teton County at 62. Of all the confirmed cases, 12.6% were American Indian, according to the department.
A month ago, the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council -- comprised of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho business councils -- directed all tribal members to shelter in place to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Spoonhunter said the youth especially in the tribe need to follow the social distancing measures.
"We need to practice current preventive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, please stay at home; do not continue to be out in public places possibly exposing yourself and your loved ones to this deadly disease," he said.
Otherwise, the youth are disregarding the safety of the tribal elders, parents and grandparents, Spoonhunter said.
The tribal ceremonies haven't started yet, and they possibly will begin on time if people stay in place, and wear gloves and masks if people need to go out, he said.
"Our story is a story of perseverance," Spoonhunter said. "We are a resilient people."
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