Dear Band Members,
As most of you know the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is now present in Minnesota. As of March 14, there are 21 confirmed cases of the virus. These cases are in Stearns, Ramsey, Carver, Anoka, and Olmstead counties. (For ongoing updates on Coronavirus and the Band's preparations and reponse, please see this page.
The Mille Lacs Department of Health and Human Services, Emergency Management, and the Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) continue to monitor those cases and work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and Indian Health Service to ensure we have the most up-to-date information and are prepared to care for our community in the event of a potential outbreak.
The following are answers to common questions people are asking about Coronavirus:
1. Are Band Members currently at risk of getting Coronavirus?
The health officials at the State, Federal and Tribal levels tell us we are still currently at a low risk level here in Minnesota. This could change in the future, but as of today, the State knows of only five cases in Minnesota.
2. How does a person become infected with Coronavirus?
Because the virus has similar symptoms of the cold or flu, it can also be spread much the same way as the cold or flu, such as being close by an infected person who is coughing or sneezing.
3. What are precautions can Band Members take to prevent Coronavirus?
The easiest way to prevent getting sick yourself is to stay away from people who are ill and practice good hand-washing. We encourage you all to practice the following precautions:
• Wash your hands often and well (it is recommended to sing the ABC’s or count to 20-30).
• Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or more.
• Keep heavily touched items clean.
o Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
o Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection (CDC, 2020).
• Distance yourself from people who are sneezing and coughing. Coronavirus is contracted by coming in contact with respiratory droplets from those infected and close contact (6 feet).
• Stay away from heavily populated areas, conferences, meetings, and limit travel.
• If you have any flu-like symptoms, please isolate yourselves from elders and others with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to this virus.
4. If there is a Coronavirus outbreak that spreads through Minnesota, who is most at risk?
According to the CDC, there are groups of people who have a higher likelihood of becoming sicker than others if they contract coronavirus and will have a harder tie fighting the virus if they become ill. Those groups include:
• People with diabetes
• People with lung diseases, such as asthma, lung cancer, or emphysema
• People with heart disease
• People with suppressed immune systems, such as those who have received an organ transplant or those receiving chemotherapy
• Elders over the age of 60
• Those who have other serious chronic medical conditions
5. If I or a family member are in one of these groups, are there any special precautions we should take right now?
Yes. People in these groups are at higher risk of becoming very ill from many different illnesses besides coronavirus, such as the more common strain of influenza. However, there are certain precautions the CDC is advising people in high-risk groups take to prevent Coronavirus:
• Besides the precautions listed in #3, the CDC is recommending that people in high-risk groups do not travel, especially by airplane, train, bus, or cruise ship
• Try to stay away from heavily populated areas with crowds
• When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often.
• If a family member becomes ill, avoid all contact with them until they have recovered.
6. What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
If an outbreak in Minnesota should spread, pay attention for potential coronavirus symptoms. Which include:
• Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for coronavirus, get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion or inability to arouse
• Bluish lips or face
If you are experiencing any symptoms, or if you are concerned you have been in contact with someone who is ill, we encourage you to distance yourself from our elders and others who are at higher risk and immediately call your doctor or Ne-Ia-Shing Clinic. The Ne-la-Shing clinic is prepared to answer any questions you may have or if you are experiencing any symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact them during regular hours. Ne-Ia-Shing clinic can help answer questions, for an appointment call 320-532-4163. If you become ill after regular hours, please consult your regular physician or urgent care facility.
We will be keeping you all informed and update you as necessary.
For ongoing updates on the coronavirus situation, please monitor this page.