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PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — On Tuesday, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner issued an executive order for a 72-hour lockdown on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota. The executive order soon after an employee of the Red Cloud Indian School system’s COVID-19 test came back positive.

The 72-hour lockdown began last night, Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 6:00 – MDT and will end on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.- MDT.

Runner announced the lockdown on the 3,469-square mile reservation on a Facebook livestream on Tuesday evening as the measure went into effect.

Per the executive order, essential employees will be able to continue to work, but all other travel will be limited to medical appointments and grocery stores to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Bear Runner said residents of the reservation cannot travel off the tribal land to buy their groceries. They must only shop at stores on the reservation.

Those who do leave and come back onto tribal land will be required to go into a 14-day quarantine.

Vendors will continue to have access to Pine Ridge to resupply businesses, but anyone who is not a resident will be turned away.

“I am appreciative and supportive of president Bear Runners swift and deliberate decision to issue executive order 20-02 for a 72-hour reservation wide lockdown as an important step to combat COVID-19,” South Dakota state Sen. Red Dawn Foster, whose senate district includes the reservation, told Native News Online on Tuesday night.

“I want to encourage our people to stay home to stay safe, this is going to take a tremendous amount of community collaboration to minimize the risk to our elders and other vulnerable community members. I will continue to advocate for more tests and other state resources that become available,” Sen. Foster continued.

The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 is now hospitalized in Rapid City, and their spouse will also remain in Rapid City indefinitely, until all risk of spreading the infection has been ruled out by medical personnel.

Due the confidentiality laws, the name of individual who tested positive was not released to the public.

"With deep sadness and concern, I need to report that today an employee of Red Cloud Indian School tested positive for the COVID-19 virus," school President Raymond Nadolny wrote on the Catholic school's Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon. "This communication is intended to share all the information we currently have and to ensure the highest level of transparency with our staff, students and families, and community members across the Pine Ridge Reservation."

An employee of Our Lady of Lourdes School — a Red Cloud elementary school in Porcupine — and spouse traveled to California for a medical procedure on March 26, the post says. The couple returned the next day to begin a precautionary 14-day quarantine at their home on the school campus. The couple had no contact with anyone during this time, all groceries and other supplies were left outside their front door. 

The worker began feeling sick and on April 3, went to the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge where staff told the couple to travel to another facility in Martin, the Facebook post says.

 

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