Wednesday, June 3, 2020

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Native Americans may represent 42% of all COVID-19 cases in Pennington County


PHOTO BY ALAINA BEAUTIFUL BALD EAGLE

“If the data provided by the state is accurate and up-to-date, Oyate Health Center patients represent 42% of all COVID-19 cases in Pennington County. This number does not include Native American people living in Rapid City who choose to access care outside of our network. This trend is very concerning,” said Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board today in her weekly briefing.

Since last week, the Oyate Health Center has conducted 89 COVID-19 tests, which resulted in 19 new positives. To date, OHC has seen a total of 31 positive cases with the first appearing on May 3, the CEO reported.

The South Dakota Department of Health currently lists Pennington County’s total for positive COVID-19 cases at 74. There are 292 Native American cases within the state.

According to Church, tribal citizens account for approximately 12%-24% of Rapid City’s total population.

The Oyate Health Center is currently working with assisting the Native homeless population in the Black Hills area.

“While we continue to wait for the release COVID-19 response funding to activate the temporary homeless shelter at the Civic Center, we have made alternative arrangements to help our relatives who do not have a safe environment to quarantine,” said Church who urged those needing shelter to contact OHC.

The CEO also advised individuals experiencing symptoms such as coughing, difficult breathing, fever, sore throat or sudden loss of taste or smell to get tested at the OHC Southwest Screening Clinic. The clinic is is open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.