Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health Manager Dr. Barbara Hoffman provides an update on the latest COVID-19 surge now hitting the community, with details on when you should get tested and what to do if you or a family member gets sick.
Tribal Council and Suquamish government leaders are closely tracking the spike in Omicron infections that is sweeping the entire country and is sickening people here on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.
We are taking action, and we are asking that you do also. Please take these steps to protect yourself and those who are unable to get vaccinated, especially our youngest children:
- If you aren’t well, please get tested and isolate yourself from others.
- If you are a close contact with someone who has COVID, please wait five days and then get tested.
- Testing is available free to all Tribal members and their households, as well as government staff and PME employees, at the Tribal Center, every weekday from 8:30am to noon.
- The ELC tested staff and students and will reopen Jan. 5 with limited hours, 9am – 4pm. CKA tested all staff and students and has reopened.
- All Tribal services are by appointment only or via curbside pick-up this week. Non-essential Tribal government staff are asked to work from home.
- Vaccinations and boosters are our best protection. Please make sure you and all family members are fully vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Make a vaccination appointment at: https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov
- Children age 12 and up are eligible for vaccinations and can get boosters if their second dose was at least 6 months ago.
- Children age 5 and up should get vaccinated. Please check with your health care provider if you have concerns about getting your child vaccinated.
- Avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside your household. Keep your “bubble” small.
- Wear N-95 masks, or two layers of other masks, when outside your bubble.
- Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
- Tribe Emergency Management has ordered additional home test kits. We will notify you via SUN alert when they are available.
These steps worked to help reduce the impact on the Tribal community so far. Now we need to put these steps to work again while Omicron burns through the community.
Acting together we can protect vulnerable members of our family and community.
More background information
The Omicron variant is much more catching, and the numbers infected are doubling every few days. We’ll have information on the number of positive cases tested by Tribal Community Health later this week.
Some people are less concerned about Omicron because it is said to be less deadly. Still, hospitals around the state are filling up with very sick people. In most cases, but not all cases, those getting very ill or dying are people who are not vaccinated.
The Tribe has an adequate supply of PCR tests, but is asking those who are not ill or a close contact, to hold off on testing during this time.
tix̌ix̌dubut čəxʷ (take care of yourself)
NEW COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Guidelines
The Suquamish Tribe has updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation guidelines in light of recent updates to CDC criteria, increased local positivity rates, and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, please contact your health care provider.
COVID Testing – Testing is closed during the Tribe’s Winter Break, through Jan. 3, 2022. Please click here for alternative testing sites.
Testing through Community Health staff will resume Jan. 4, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 12 noon without an appointment. Results are typically known within 48 hours. For more information, contact Community Health at 360-394-8469.
What to do while you Quarantine (When you are exposed but have no symptoms of COVID-19)
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals exposed to a close contact event and who are asymptomatic (no symptoms), must quarantine for 14 days and should complete a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 3-5 days following.
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who remain asymptomatic throughout the duration of their quarantine may leave quarantine on day seven (7) or later at the discretion of the local health jurisdiction, if they:
- Have received a negative PCR test on day five (5) or later and remain symptom free;
- Monitor for symptoms and wear a mask when within any indoor setting for the full 14 days;
- Immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop and get tested with a PCR test;
- They may leave quarantine on day 10 if no PCR test is performed.
- Continue to follow all travel, masking, and physical distancing recommendations. Residents of health care on congregate settings will follow agency policy.
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who become symptomatic, should complete a PCR test and immediately self-isolate following the onset of symptoms. Next steps will be determined based on the testing outcome.Fully vaccinated individuals who do not quarantine should wear a mask indoors and when in public spaces for 14 days following Close Contact exposure.
While in Quarantine
- Monitor for symptoms, fever greater than 100.4° F, cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms. CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker (Scroll ½ way down page)
- If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
- Monitor for symptoms for an additional 14 days following exposure.
- If symptomatic, immediately self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider.
What to do while in Isolation (When you separate from others because you are infected and/or have symptoms of COVID-19)
Those in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).
- Monitor for symptoms. If experiencing an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a mask when around other people if able.
Asymptomatic – Refers to an individual who is infected by the disease but does not display any of the clinical symptoms know to be associated with the disease.
Close Contact – Exposure occurs when someone has been within 6 feet of an individual infected with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Indirect contact without the combination of close proximity and duration does not constitute close contact exposure.
Fully Vaccinated – Defines an individual who has received their full regiment of vaccine dosages and is at least two weeks post completion of their final vaccination. Though booster vaccinations are not yet considered part of the full vaccination definition, boosters are strongly encouraged.
Infected – An individual who is sick with and/or has tested positive for COVID-19; they may or may not be symptomatic.
Isolation – To physically separate a person infected with COVID-19 from people not infected to prevent the spread of disease; a person need not be symptomatic to warrant isolation.
Quarantine – To separate and restrict the movement of persons who are not symptomatic but may have been exposed to a communicable disease, to prevent close contacts that will spread disease.
CEMP: Appendix I.2, Isolation & Quarantine Guidelines CDC Quarantine and Isolation Recommendations
COVID-19 home test kits are now available to Suquamish Tribal member households.
This QuickVue home test is authorized for nonprescription home use for individuals aged 2 years or older. The test can be used within 6-days of symptom onset. Or, for those without symptoms or other medical reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection, it can be used when tested twice over three days with at least 24 hours (and no more than 48 hours) between tests.
Kits may be picked up at Wellness, Tribal Child Welfare, Human Services, Chief Kitsap Academy, Early Learning Center, Suquamish Police Department, and through the Elders Program.
You can learn more about the home test kit here.
Meanwhile, Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health COVID-19 testing station is open M-F 8:30-12:00. This free drive-thru clinic is open to all Tribal members and their households, as well as Tribal government staff and enterprise employees.
The Community Health testing station will be closed during the government holiday beginning Dec. 24 and will reopen on Jan. 4.
During that time, testing is available at a variety of locations in the area, including those listed here.
Purpose – Employee safety is a priority for the Suquamish Tribe. Work closures, delays and early dismissals due to weather, road conditions and power outages are always a possibility during periods of inclement weather. These guidelines outline when closures and or delays will be implemented and outline how the Tribe will notify employees and the community when this occurs.
Inclement Weather Planning – Emergency Management staff will monitor National Weather Service advisories for possible changes in conditions and weather-related events. When inclement weather is forecast, the following factors will be considered to determine if the predicted impacts to Tribal Government Operations will warrant the need for closures, delays, or early dismissals:
- Type of weather event;
- Strength of wind;
- Amount of rain or snowfall, and
- Potential for power outages.
Emergency Management with Executive Director (s) will review the North Kitsap School District delay/closure determination with the on-duty Public Safety Officer(s) recommendation of Port Madison Indian Reservation roadway conditions to determine safe government opening or delay/closures during Inclement Weather Incidents.
Operational Decision & Notification – Upon determining the need to modify schedules or close Tribal offices and services, all efforts will be made to notify employees. Examples of communication mediums include: A Weather Information Line that will include an outgoing message modified to reflect the closure or delay, the Suquamish Tribe website, and other electronic platforms endorsed by the Tribe for conveying such information. Department Directors will be expected to notify their team members.
In the event of weather-related closures, delays, or early dismissals, notifications will be initiated by 5:45 am when possible using the following mediums:
- Website – When posted, government office closures and delay information may be found via an alert on the Tribe’s website at suquamish.nsn.us.
- Email –An “All Staff” message may also be sent via the Tribe’s email system. If your email is not listed with the Suquamish Tribe, notify the Human Resources Department to have it added.
- Text Alerts – Sign up for test alerts at the link https://suquamish.nsn.us/suqumaihs-updates-now/. NOTE: All government employees should sign up for the SUN as it is the most reliable way to reach you in the event of any emergency.
- Weather Information Line –When activated, call (360) 394-8670 for the latest information on Tribal Government closures and delays.
- Media –Inclement weather notifications will be posted on the Suquamish Tribe’s Facebook page. For government office and school closures, Radio stations such as KITZ 1400 AM, KIRO 710 AM, KRPM 1090, KOMO 1000 AM, KPLU 88.5, KUOW 94.5, KJR 95.7, and KLSY 92.5 and local television stations KOMO TV 4, KING TV 5, KIRO TV 7, and KCPQ TV 13 will be announcing schedule changes after 6 am. Schools will be operating on normal schedules when no announcement has been made.
Employees should not call individual office or school phones since staff will not likely be available to answer. The above communication modes will be the most reliable means to obtain the status of government offices, schools, and Tribal services.
Types of Closures or Delays
When Trial government offices are open and operating as they normally would, no announcement will be made and employees are expected to report to work at their normally scheduled time.
- Office Closure – If Tribal Government Offices close due to inclement weather, employees capable of working remotely are required to do so. Upon reopening, all employees are expected to return to work. If an employee needs time off to tend to repairs or damage beyond the norm, normal leave of absence policies will apply. In these cases, employees should stay in close communication with their supervisor to ensure the time off is properly accounted for. Some departments or services are considered essential, and are not subject to office closure guidelines i.e., Public Safety and Tribal Gaming. Check with your Department Director, or Supervisor to determine if your position is required to report to work during inclement weather conditions.
- School Closure– If Chief Kitsap Academy or the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center is closed due to inclement weather, all school transportation, meetings, field trips, after-school activities, practices will be canceled for the day unless otherwise specifically announced. All evening meetings/functions scheduled to take place in facilities will also be canceled.
- Two-Hour Delay– If there is a two-hour delayed start, employees are expected to report to their work shift accordingly.
If employed by Chief Kitsap Academy, or Early Learning Center, the following schedule changes may apply:
- In the case of a two-hour delay, the ELC will open at 9:30am, and all ELC staff will work 9:30am to 5pm.
- Transportation will run 2 hours late
- No breakfast programs (ELC Children will be fed upon arrival, regardless of start time)
- No out-of-reservation boundaries transportation
- No before school activities
In extreme conditions, the Chief Kitsap Academy or Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center may be closed after the Tribal government has announced a two-hour delay due to further deterioration of the weather or students may be released early. Parents should have a back-up plan if this happens. Release and transportation impacts including modified snow routes, or alternate bus stop impacts will be communicated to parents by CKA or ELC.
When snow routes are activated, official notification will be sent out with a link to Snow Routes. Snow Routes are posted by November 1st each year on the Snow Routes (insert link) page of the Transportation Department website. Transportation Services will send out a phone alert when only a few bus stops have been changed.
You may reach Transportation Services at (360) 394-8578 for ELC services beginning November 2021, The ELC is not providing bus transportation OR for CKA Services (360) 394-8566 for questions regarding alternate bus stops or delays in service.
- Early Release– Should inclement weather occur during the workday; Tribal leadership will make the determination regarding what time the government will close. The Tribe may use discretion when determining closure leave eligibility.
Map of CKA Snow Route Stops
The American Indian Health Commission received confirmation that any member of a tribal or urban Indian community is eligible for COVID 19 Vaccine boosters.
Per Washington DOH’s news release Oct. 22, booster doses are now available for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
AIHC asked the question for clarification of Who Is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot. AIHC asked for clarification to CDC’s guidance on booster eligibility criteria located in People with Certain Medical Conditions | CDC guidance which states any member of a Tribe or Urban Indian community would be eligible for COVID 19 Vaccine Boosters.
CDC responded they are “in agreement that based on this criteria any member of a tribal or urban Indian community would be eligible for boosters.”
Click here for more information.
You may have heard that a third (3) vaccine dose against COVID-19 is now available for those who are fully vaccinated. Here’s what we’ve learned:
- Anyone with a compromised immune system from cancer drugs, organ transplants, and so on can get a booster now. Check with your health care provider.
- For everyone else who received their second (2) dose of vaccinations at least 8 months ago, booster will be available beginning September 20. Since the Suquamish Tribe was very early in getting our community and employees vaccinated, that means many of us will be eligible. We will send out additional information about where you can receive the third (3) dose once that information becomes available in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a top priority is to make sure everyone in our community has received the regular vaccinations. This is especially urgent at this time when cases are at the highest rate ever within the Tribal community, and local emergency room facilities are reaching capacity. Please, if you haven’t already, make sure everyone in your family 12 and above is vaccinated. Doing this will help us get back to school and daily activities safely.
Information on the third (3) vaccine dose is attached and for additional information please contact Suquamish Tribe Community Health or your primary health care provider.
Cherrie May, Manager
Office of Emergency Management
MODERNA & PFIZER VACCINE 3rd VACCINATION DOSE AGAINST COVID–19 FOR THOSE WHO ARE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED AND GENERAL PUBLIC
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has modified the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and the Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to allow people with compromised immune systems to get a third (3) dose. Public Health Officers are saying it is increasingly clear that many immunocompromised patients are still vulnerable to Covid-19 following vaccination because they may not get an effective immune response to the first 2 vaccinations.
According to the CDC, the list includes people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
It is highly recommended that you talk to their healthcare provider about your medical condition, and whether getting a third (3) dose is appropriate for you.
Why should immunocompromised people get a third (3) dose?
It’s harder for vaccines to rev up an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases, so those patients don’t always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people — and small studies suggest for at least some, an extra dose may be the solution.
When can eligible people get their third dose?
The FDA determined that transplant recipients and others with a similar level of compromised immunity can receive a third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at least 28 days after getting their second shot.
Are there any risks with getting a third dose? What about side effects?
The CDC reports there is “limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated.”
CDC has noted that side effects with the third vaccination “were similar to that of the two-dose series.”
The most common symptoms include fatigue and pain at the injection site, but “most symptoms were mild to moderate.”
As with previous doses of the vaccine, the CDC notes that, “serious side effects are rare, but may occur.”
Can you mix and match the vaccines?
For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.
When will COVID-19 third (3) dose be available for general public for those who have already received two (2) doses of a mRNA vaccine?
For people who have already received 2 doses of their mRNA vaccine you may receive a third (3) dose if you are 8 months out from your second (2) dose of mRNA beginning September 20, 2021.
The following vaccine distribution approach was approved by Tribal Council in November.
The first delivery of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Dec. 28. The next day, the Tribe received our medical standing orders allowing us to begin dispensing the vaccine. Our medical and support staff were then vaccinated so mass vaccinations could begin for our wider community.
The Emergency Operations Staff thank you for your patience and understanding as we move through this difficult time.
If you have any questions regarding this vaccine distribution approach, please contact us at email@example.com
COVID-19 Vaccinations continue for Tribal Elders
The Suquamish Tribe Government was notified its second 600-dose shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is on the way and should arrive next week.
That shipment will come just as the Tribe is wrapping up distribution of the first 600-dose lot of vaccines that it began administering to Tribal Elders on Jan. 4. A small group of medical and support staff needed to distribute the vaccine began getting their vaccines on Dec. 30.
The new shipment sets the stage to begin vaccinating the Tribe’s general membership next week. “We should be able to begin vaccinating general Tribal membership households starting on Jan. 14” May said. “That timeline hinges on our next round of doses arriving as we’ve been promised,” she added.
Meanwhile, most Elders – all Tribal members 55 years old and above, as well as their spouses/partners – who want the vaccine are expected to be vaccinated by the end of this week. Additional front-line Tribal staff and first responders are also receiving the vaccine.
“Our next focus will be on vaccinating the Tribal staff needed to provide essential services and support to our Tribal people,” said May.
That will include members of the Tribe’s Human Services Department, which is responsible for Elder care, veterans services, assistance programs, and health benefits, among others. Staff at the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center and Chief Kitsap Academy will also be among the next round of vaccinations, as well as Suquamish Seafoods operations.
“We’ve got to get the teachers and childcare providers inoculated so that our people with kids can work,” said May. “The immediate priority now, over the next few days, is on getting vaccinations to those who provide essential services to Tribal members and keep the government running.”
After Tribal households are vaccinated, remaining government staff will receive their shots.
Suquamish Tribe interim Co-executive Director Scott Crowell noted the Tribe has been able to get vaccinations moving to its members with record speed, with more doses now being ordered weekly.
Indeed, for the rest of Washington State, the vast majority of vaccination efforts are still focused on getting health care providers inoculated while health districts grapple with the logistics and training needed for rolling mass vaccinations.
“We were able to get our first 600 doses pretty quickly. If we are able to get more doses at that rate, I think we should be able to have everyone vaccinated – hopefully – by the end of January,” said Crowell.
Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman said the speed with which the Tribe has been able to begin delivering vaccines is directly connected to weeks of hard work by Tribal staff.
“I’d like to emphasize all the planning that’s made this process so smooth,” said Forsman. “My hands are up to the people in the Human Services Department and Emergency Operation Center. I’m really impressed with all the hard work they had to do, even during the Christmas holiday, to get this set up. The EOC, headed up by Cherrie May, and Human Services led by Nehreen Ayub, and also the important work of our Community Health nurse, Dr. Barbara Hoffman, have all done a great job coordinating staff to make this vaccination a great success so far.”