MISSION — A COVID-19 outbreak among Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation staff means the Tribes are getting some help from neighboring governments.

In a press release, the CTUIR announced that five staff members of the public safety department have tested positive for the virus. To make up for the staff shortage, the Tribes are activating mutual aid agreements with the Pendleton Fire Department and East Umatilla Fire & Rescue. The Bureau of Indian Affairs wildland firefighters will not be affected.

“We are taking every precaution to make sure the community is safe. Fire protection will continue thanks to our partners. Contact tracing is nearly complete,” CTUIR Board of Trustees Chair Kat Brigham said in a statement. “This outbreak shows how COVID can shutter critical public services. Fortunately, our Emergency Operating Plan (ensures) continuity of services.”

The public safety department as well as the coronavirus cases’ close contacts are being tested at the Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center.

The CTUIR Public Safety Department oversees the Tribes’ police department, fire department, prosecutor, emergency management, family violence services and the office of support enforcement.

According to Yellowhawk, the CTUIR has six active COVID-19 cases and 82 total cases with one death.

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