(as advised and approved by Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal and Health Center leadership)
Tribal leadership has always been clear about their goals in managing the pandemic: protect the vulnerable and do everything possible to prevent severe illness and death. Over the last two years, they have done just that while also balancing the community’s social, financial, and other health related needs.
Throughout the pandemic, PGST has relied on the advice of health care professionals when making decisions. This includes Health Services Director Jolene Sullivan, as well as long-time Community Health Center physicians Dr. Scott Lindquist and Dr. Luke McDaniel.
The Tribe continues to enforce a masking policy in any government or public building owned by the Tribe. This mirrors Washington state’s mask mandate.
In addition, all employees of the Tribe and its entities—including those operated by Noo-Kayet Investments—are required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Non-staff PGST community members aged 5+ are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Tribe has operated robust testing and contact tracing protocols for staff and community members. The Tribe has also regularly provided guidance—like in this document—to help keep the community safe.
To ensure that the continuation of Tribal operations and the safety of all staff, Government offices are open by appointment only. While employees are back in the office, services for community members are provided using low contact and/or remote efforts.
Gatherings in Tribally owned buildings, including the Tribal Center and Longhouse, are limited and, at this time, by approval of the EOC team only. Any approved event is subject to strict health and safety protocols for all attendees.
Guidelines for Staying Healthy from COVID-19
We’ve been living with COVID since March 2020. It’s natural to have “COVID fatigue.” The good news is vaccinated and boosted individuals do have strong protections against the virus.
According to Dr. Scott Lindquist, who has been advising the Washington State Department of Health on COVID since the start of the pandemic, we’ve reached a point where COVID isn’t likely to disappear, and it’s important to embrace strategies that help keep everyone safe.
Since the start of the pandemic, a lot of has been learned about how best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Here are the four best strategies to avoid getting sick:
- Maximize the vaccine. Anyone aged 5 and older is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and receive any boosters as they become available. Vaccines have been proven to be the best tool to protect against severe illness and death, especially in the most vulnerable populations.
- Mask up whenever in public, especially in crowds or around people who might be unvaccinated. When inside, N95 or KN95 masks provide the best protection. The next best option are surgical masks. Masks should always be worn over the nose and mouth.
- Assess risk from social activities. Social distancing helps limit exposure but being isolated for the long-term isn’t practical or healthy. The key is to be thoughtful about exposure risk, especially when around others who aren’t vaccinated and/or following other guidelines. In addition, wear masks and consider utilizing at-home tests before and after attending any gatherings or public events. And, always, if sick, stay home!
- Maximize ventilation. Whenever possible, hold gathering outdoors. When indoors, open a window or door to encourage air flow. If using an HVAC system with changeable air filters, change out monthly using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.
PGST Isolation and Quarantine GuidelinesSometimes exposure to COVID happens even when following the provided guidance.
The PGST Health Center has in place isolation guidelines for those who test positive for or have been exposed to COVID-19. These rules are intended to keep transmission of the virus as contained as possible.
COVID-19 Isolation Guidelines
If positive for COVID, please stay home—except to seek medical attention as needed—until ALL of the following conditions are met:
- At least 5 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and they are resolving (without fever for at least 24 hours). If asymptomatic, at least 5 days have passed since testing positive.
- Have tested negative for COVID-19 on or after day 5 of onset of symptoms or testing positive.
After completing 5 days of isolation, wear a mask for 5 days whenever around others. This includes in the home or an office setting, even if around small groups or people you often socialize with.
COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines
If identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please quarantine at home until ALL of the following conditions are met:
- At least 5 days have passed since exposure.
- You have negative for COVID-19 on or after day 5 of exposure.
- You have no symptoms of COVID-19.
PGST Government and Enterprise staff that are close contacts may test daily for 5 days, with a negative result, prior to their shift to avoid quarantine. Health Services staff will provide additional information regarding testing after hours.
Any staff members that are a close contact residing in the same household of a positive case must quarantine for 5 days regardless of their vaccination status.