Makah Tribe rolls back to Phase 2 amid COVID-19 outbreak

(Photo by: IMAGE POINT FR - LPN/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The remote Makah Indian reservation in northwest Washington is reinstating COVID-19 restrictions meant to limit the spread of the virus amid an outbreak there.

The reservation returned to Phase 2 on Tuesday, which makes masks mandatory in public indoor settings, bars all indoor gatherings and limits outdoor gatherings to 10 people, The Peninsula Daily News reported.

Tribal Chairman TJ Greene said the changes stem from four positive COVID-19 cases confirmed between Monday and Tuesday, and a total of eight cases confirmed since July 23.

The infections are believed to have come to the community from tribal members traveling off the reservation, including trips to Las Vegas and Hawaii, he said.

Seventeen households are in quarantine, he said. The community has one walk-in clinic. There is one road in and out of the reservation and the closest hospital is two hours away in Port Angeles.

Chairman Greene said the tribe is being cautious so history doesn’t repeat itself.

"We lost over 90% of our population with 2 outbreaks of smallpox in the 1800s. These stories, they still live with us today," Greene said.

The Makah population of about 1,500 is approximately 70% vaccinated, according to Greene.

The tribal council will reassess the situation in two weeks.

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