San Carlos Apache Tribal Council is taking a cautious approach to possible re-opening

Susanne Jerome/Apache Moccasin An amendment was tabled until the next board meeting to discuss restrictions proposed to allow people who hold contracts to thin forests in the highlands to continue with their work, while forbidding wood cutters from lower areas to sell wood or cut it to use in their own homes.

Keeping the number of people in the community testing positive for the virus at zero seems to trump letting people out on the roads to run or walk even with social distancing.

Their medical experts from the Healthcare Corporation discussed models that show that the number of cases in neighboring areas have not peaked and may not peak until the middle of May to possibly the middle of June.

Tao Etpison brought up the plight of tribal members who wanted to exercise in the fresh air, but were risking $1,000 fines if they were cited, but the sense of the council seemed to be: “don’t be selfish. Protect others at least temporarily.”

The council voted to extend the limitations on tribal members for 30 days more and to instruct TERC to present a tentative plan for recovering normal life in San Carlos to the next Council meeting on May 4.

Much information was given to the council regarding how the Casino Hotel and the High School would be used to deal with the inevitable infections once they are detected.

The Health Care Corporation thinks that they have enough supplies of Personal Protective Equipment and testing kits. And they feel confident of being able to isolate people infected by the virus and to trace and quarantine their contacts.

Also, the 14 days of paid administrative leave for affected workers for the tribe and for tribal enterprises will be soon be over.

In a motion to amend the initial vote to continue restrictions Council proposed to allow people who hold contracts to thin forests in the highlands to continue with their work, while forbidding wood cutters from lower areas to sell wood or cut it to use in their own homes. After some discussion, the amendment was tabled until the next board meeting.

Councilman Dr. John Bush urged tribal members to shop at Bashas rather than going on to relative viral hot spots in neighboring counties. Bush asserted that there were likely fewer important items missing from shelves at Bashas than in neighboring cities. Dr. Michael Keney discussed issues of testing in great detail in response to the thoughtful questions by councilmen and women.

The council broke for lunch before discussing financial and other considerations in the afternoon.

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