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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Spikes Take North Dakota Tribes “Back to Square One”

FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis says the state’s tribes are “back to square one” after recent coronavirus outbreaks linked to July Fourth gatherings.

The primary counties where the state’s five federally recognized tribes are located are all ranked in the state’s top 20 for virus cases per capita in the last two weeks.

Davis says tribal leaders are taking the virus seriously and that he has warned the pandemic will probably last a long time.

Spirit Lake Nation Chairman Douglas Yankton, whose northeastern North Dakota county leads the state in the number of cases by population in the last two weeks, said the tribe is debating shutting down the casino for a second time and issuing a stay at home order for everybody. But the economic consequences could be devastating.

Some tribes have issued mandatory masks orders and all have ramped up testing. Recent mass COVID-19 screenings at Spirit Lake and at the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation each drew nearly 1,000 people.

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