The Osage Nation will “revamp” its COVID-19 protocols after portions detailing when the tribe will enter a “State of Emergency” were inadvertently copied from a smaller tribe, officials there said.
Bobby Tallchief, Osage Nation Emergency Management Director, told The Frontier he had sent the tribe’s strategic analyst a document he had seen that detailed when the state of emergency would kick in.
The official Osage Nation “Pandemic Prevention and Recovery Process Protocols,” which were sent to tribal members on Monday, stated it will only declare a state of emergency when 50 percent of its employees are absent from work.
Tallchief said that wording was pulled from “a much smaller tribe that had only about 40 workers.”
Tallchief said the Osage Nation has 52 buildings and more than 500 workers.
“My God, that would mean we’d need 250 people out before we’d declare a state of emergency,” he told The Frontier. “The way that came out, it won’t work. That’s going to be revamped and reworked today or tomorrow. We’ll have to do that.”
The two-page document was provided to The Frontier and offers workplace advice as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress.
On Thursday, Oklahoma announced its first COVID-19 related death, a 55-year-old Tulsa County man who received a positive diagnosis on Tuesday and then died Wednesday. State officials announced Thursday morning the number of positive COVID-19 tests in Oklahoma had risen to 44.
The Osage Nation “Pandemic Prevention and Recovery Process” encourages tribal directors to “promote frequent and thorough hand washing … encourage respiratory etiquette” and to discourage workers from using desks and equipment that is not their own.
But it only tells directors to “encourage” sick workers to stay home. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend any worker who becomes ill should “promptly separate themselves from other workers and go home until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone.”
Under the order, only after half of the tribe’s employees are sick and do not come to work are the State of Emergency protocols activated and the tribe’s office buildings closed.
The protocols say that if there is “immediate absenteeism” of sick employees, that directors are to “update employees to increase good hygiene and infection control practices.”
Once 25 percent of employees “are sick and do not come to work,” directors are to “limit outside contact,” and notify health authorities within the tribe and state on the tribe’s screening processes, and to “consider” activating State of Emergency Protocols.
“Have (the) cleaning service wear protective gear and do thorough cleaning of buildings top to bottom within 24 to 48 hours after shut down,” the protocol states. “Critical business functions will continue operations with minimal personnel only via telephone and online forms.”
Critical business functions include “Executive, ONPD (Osage Nation Police Department), Emergency Management, Information Technology, CHR (Community Health Representatives), Public Health Nurse, Accounting, Human Resources, Financial Assistance, Membership, WIC, Elder Nutrition, Social Services, WIldland Fire, Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center, and Tax Commission.”
Employees who have been exposed or have “returned from travel” will face a minimum two week self-quarantine, according to the Osage Nation COVID-19 Employee guidelines.
As no vaccine for the coronavirus currently exists, the CDC has said that the best way to help stem the tide of citizens becoming infected — also known as flattening the curve — is to completely self-isolate if you become sick or suspect you might be sick.
In Oklahoma public schools have closed and some cities are mandating a closure of bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues where people congregate en masse. Businesses whose workers can work from home have been encouraged to allow that, with the idea being that the people are isolated from each other, the less likely they are to come into contact with the virus.