- By Nanette Kelley
HOOPA, Calif. — Positive COVID-19 cases on the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California climbed to 24 last Thursday, an increase that helped elevate an entire county to its highest daily case record since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Aug. 6, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services reported 25 new cases of COVID-19. County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said in a statement that the positive case increase is primarily related to two case clusters, one in an agricultural setting and the Hoopa Valley Tribe the second.
“This is the largest increase in cases recorded in a single day, only one day after the county reported double digit cases for the first time,” said a statement released by the county.
Frankovich also spoke during a KEET PBS report, in which she explained that Humboldt County is working with the tribe by providing contact tracing. The spike stems from one family who traveled out of the county, she said.
“Local public health has a partnership with the medical clinic in Hoopa and the tribe,” said Frankovich. She also mentioned that she’s in constant contact with the director of the clinic, Dr. Eva Smith, and pointed out that due to the distance between Hoopa Valley and the county offices in Eureka, the case counts from the K’ima:w Medical Center are prone to a time lag in reporting.
A state of emergency was issued on March 4 by Hoopa Tribal Chairman Byron Nelson Jr., and the Hoopa Tribal Council subsequently issued a stay at home order on April 1. The reservation continues to live under the order months later, with a 10 p.m. curfew. Fines for order violations range from $500 for the first offense, and the worst offenders could face a $5,000 fine, including seizure of property and exclusion from the reservation for at least one year. The tribe has formed an incident management team in response to the new cluster of cases, led by Greg Moon (Hupa), who is also the tribe’s fire chief.
Meriah Miracle, an information officer at the Humboldt County Joint Information Center, said that all tribal COVID-19 cases are included in the county data because it is a matter of zip code and not tribal affiliation.
“All people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Humboldt County are counted by their place of residence based on zip code, which is a state standard. Place of residence is the most helpful information to have for case investigations. On the county’s data dashboard, cases in the Hoopa area would show up in the Northern Humboldt region,” she said.
Although individual tribal affiliation is not listed in county statistics, Humboldt County’s weekly COVID-19 data shows that of the 213 confirmed cases as of Aug. 10, at least six percent are American Indian.
As of Aug. 11, the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s K’ima:w Medical Center has reported 26 cases, 23 of which are active. There have been no deaths as a result of the virus.
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