First, on behalf of myself and the Council, I want to tell you how much we appreciate the community’s understanding and cooperation regarding Saturday’s Council meeting being closed. We understand that this move was out of the ordinary, but by staying home, you helped preserve your safety, as well as the safety of the Executives and Council.
I do have a very important update to share with you today.
On April 10th, we were notified that an employee on the Sanitation staff at the Seneca Allegany Administration Building has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual is currently in quarantine at their home. They have been in contact with the Cattaraugus County Health Department and following the County’s direction.
The employee was last at work at the Administration building on Monday, April 6th. They were temperature screened when they entered the building and did not have a fever, nor did they show any symptoms at that time. A few hours later, the employee reported not feeling well, and was sent home. The areas of the building where the employee had been working received a thorough deep cleaning.
They have not returned to work since Monday evening.
The employee lives with a close relative who works with the Allegany DPW. That person is also in self-quarantine and is following direction from the County Health Department.
In keeping with protocol and procedure, the County is performing contact tracing for both individuals and will notify any close contacts, including any co-workers, on how to proceed if they are believed to be at risk of exposure. If any Nation employees are contacted by the County, they will follow all of the County’s directives and recommendations.
As we continue to implement strong COVID-19 response measures on our territories, let me emphasize that the Nation is strictly adhering to protocols and guidance from expert professionals. This includes the guidelines being issued by the CDC and national agencies, regional and local health departments, and advice from our own Health System.
To this end, we have several policies and actions in place to help protect the health and safety of our Nation workforce. These plans include:
• I am issuing an Executive Stay at Home order on our territories other than for essential services and travel. I hope our members will abide by this order and remain home as a public safety measure;
• Also, a cleaning crew is re-sanitizing the entire Allegany Administration building today;
• Our entire Sanitation staff and supervisors will remain at home on Monday and Tuesday. We will re-evaluate all Sanitation staff on Tuesday regarding their return to work.
• A replacement cleaning crew will work at the Administration building during this time, following all established procedures for cleaning during the pandemic.
• Our entire DPW department has been instructed to remain home on Monday and Tuesday, as well. We will re-evaluate the DPW staff on Tuesday regarding their return to work.
• A cleaning crew will re-sanitize the entire DPW building, including their vehicles and equipment, on Monday and Tuesday.
• Masks have been secured to distribute to all employees who require one upon return to work on Monday;
• We are working on the purchase of sanitizers that, once we receive them, will be distributed to the Seneca people. More information on their availability will be forthcoming;
Dr. Amy Damiani, the Chief Medical Officer at the Health System, has also advised us on what to look for over the next several days. We will continue to closely monitor and evaluate this situation and any and all necessary actions throughout the weekend and Monday.
I ask that everyone keep our employee in your thoughts and prayers in hopes they have a safe and speedy recovery.
On a positive note, the Nation received word yesterday from the Indian Health Service that we have been approved for a rapid test analyzer and test kits. We do not yet have a specific delivery date from IHS for this important equipment. However, we are currently working on establishing protocols within our Health System for when it arrives.
I know hearing of a positive case within our community may be frightening for our people. Let me give you every assurance that the Nation is taking this development extremely seriously and doing everything within our power to protect our entire community, from our Nation workers to our residents and neighbors.
We should all take this situation as an important reminder. The COVID-19 response is an ongoing effort, and it is reaching a critical stage. Everyone in our community needs to remember to do our part to slow the spread of this virus.
Please stay home, except for essential activities. We all need to be vigilant about practicing and maintaining social distancing. We are a community and everyone needs to do their part to look out for and to protect each other. That is our responsibility to ourselves, to the people we care about, and to all of our fellow Seneca Nation members. It starts with all of us.
The Nation will continue to provide important updates to our members. The Seneca Nation Coronavirus Response Hub website can be reached by visiting www.SNI.org and looking for the large red banner. We are also working on a special edition of the Nation newsletter that will be coming out soon.
You can also check the Seneca Media Facebook page, the Nation Newsletter site, WGWE, along with various YouTube updates and videos for regular updates.
As we maintain essential services for the Seneca people, know that everyone entering our Nation facilities will continue to have their temperature taken to ensure that nobody is entering a Nation building with a fever. This includes the Oaktree and 44 Seneca housing complexes. In addition, all deliveries to our buildings are to stop at the front door or reception area.
More than anything, I want to reiterate that we are taking this pandemic very seriously. Everything we have done and will do, and every decision we make will be driven by doing what is best for the Seneca people. Your health and safety remain our highest priority.
We are going to get through this period together.
Stay safe, stay connected, and continue to look out for one another.
Rickey L. Armstrong Sr., President
Executive Order: STAY AT HOME ORDER