Below please find the latest notices related to COVID-19
February 17, 2022
To Our Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Community and Staff:
Two years ago, we were all faced with a seemingly impossible task: protect ourselves and our community from a once-in-a-generation deadly virus.
Under the guidance of our medical team, we took swift action. The original variant of COVID-19 was potentially catastrophic, and the best advice was to physically and socially distance—a hard ask for a community that thrives on togetherness. We credit this quick and ongoing response in helping to minimize serious cases and deaths. It has been a difficult road and we thank you for everything you did to protect our community.
Today, we are in a different place with this virus. There are vaccines and effective treatments. The current variant of COVID, Omicron, is more transmissible, but far less severe. While the vaccinated can get sick, they have very low rates of serious illness and death.
So, after much consideration and following advice from our medical team, we have made the decision to ease back on COVID restrictions:
As of March 1, 2022, masks will become optional for all staff and guests. In addition, all gathering restrictions for our community and staff on the reservation will be lifted, and the Tribal Campus will be open and accessible to all for normal business operations.
Masks will continue to be required in any healthcare setting.
Also as of March 1, quarantine assistance will reduce to one $500 card per home dealing with COVID. All previous rules to qualify apply. This assistance, along with COVID sick leave and vaccine incentives, will be discontinued entirely after March 31. A booster incentive of $100 is in effect now through March 31.
Our medical team will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic and will reinstate masking and restrictions, if necessary.
Throughout this pandemic, we have all made huge sacrifices. We’ve put our lives on hold and our children have lost precious time in their education and development. Many of us have wondered when—or if—we would be able to gather again as a community. Unsurprisingly, rates of depression, anxiety, and addiction have increased. While we stand by the decisions made, the negative outcomes caused by shutdowns and mask mandates now far outweigh the potential risks from COVID.
We want to make clear that anyone who would like to continue to wear a mask absolutely should. You will always be supported in that decision.
COVID will always be with us, and as we shift to this next phase, there are precautions that we are asking to become a part of your everyday lives:
- Get tested for COVID with the presence of any symptoms. If you test at home, report positive results to the Health Center. Knowing about positive cases in our community allows us to make timely decisions and provide individuals with the best treatment options.
- Stay home if you are sick. It protects you, your co-workers, and our families.
- Wash your hands. Use sanitizer when washing isn’t an option.
- Wear a mask if you’re getting over an illness or have any symptoms, even those arising from allergies and other non-contagious sources.
- Gather outside when possible or in a well-ventilated area.
- Encourage masks with large groups, especially those that include Elders or the medically vulnerable.
The Health Center will continue to offer COVID testing Monday through Friday from 9:30-11:30 am and 1-3 pm. This is open to all PGST community members, staff (and immediate family members), and any tribal member living in Kitsap County. The Health Center also has masks and protective supplies available.
COVID-19 taught us a lot: about viruses, healthcare, and life during a pandemic. It also taught us less tangible lessons about what we mean to one another and our need for connection. Through it all, we have remained The Strong People, proving our resilience and love for one another. Now, after everything we’ve been through, let’s come together to finally heal, rejoice, and grieve.
yaʔyíyəŋ yaʔ st ʔiʔ ʔuʔəsx̣áp̕ɬ cə súɬɬ
We have journeyed far, but our road has ended.
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Council:
Jeromy Sullivan, Chairman
Chris Tom, Vice Chair
Renee Veregge, Response Team Liaison
Donovan “Doc” Ashworth
COVID Emergency Response Team:
Jolene Sullivan, Health Director
Dr. Luke McDaniel, Medical Director
Dr. Scott Lindquist
COMMUNITY Q&A: AN UPDATE ON COVID-19
Thursday, January 27 at 5:30 pm via Zoom
Join PGST Medical Director Dr. Luke McDaniel, Health Director Jolene Sullivan, and Tribal leadership to learn more about this latest wave of COVID-19, including when we might start seeing cases decrease and how you can best protect yourself.
This event is now complete. To view a recording of the zoom event, please visit https://www.pgst.nsn.us/covid-19/downloads.
ISSUED JANUARY 12, 2021: Health Center COVID Testing Restrictions
Because of high demand for testing, the Health Center is limiting testing eligibility to symptomatic PGST community members, staff (+ their immediate families), and any enrolled tribal member living in Kitsap. If you are not sick, please do not test through the Health Center unless directed to do so.
Close contacts coming out of quarantine can also test on Day 5 or after. For more information on close contacts and quarantine protocols, please see the Close Contact Flow Chart.
Positive cases will be confirmed via PCR and will not be retested after finishing their isolation.
These rules will continue at least through January.