LUMMI NATION, Wash. — They hastily piled all the dumbbells and treadmills in the back of a gym to make room for 23 extra hospital beds. The beds aren’t needed yet, but on a reservation where residents suffer high rates of diseases that exist throughout Indian Country, the Lummi Tribal Health Clinic is taking every precaution to prepare for the deadly coronavirus.
Two thousand miles away at the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, where 11 people have tested positive for the virus as of Friday and one has died, Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said: “We’re preparing for the worst.” Health workers plan to move hospital beds into a nearby university and a job-training facility shuttered because of the pandemic. “This is the worst public health crisis we’ve had in a generation.”
At the Navajo Nation that crosses three western states, 321 people were infected as of Saturday, an increase of 51 cases in a single day with 13 fatalities, the most in Indian Country. Police started issuing citations to anyone who violates a stay-at-home order.