On Monday afternoon, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Health and Human Services and Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority reported the first death of a tribal member caused by COVID-19 that occurred over the weekend.
In a video posted to Facebook, Principal Chief Richard Sneed shared sympathy for deceased and discussed the need for the community to take further precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The return to normal often leads people to a more relaxed attitude toward following the guidelines set in place to keep our community safe,” he said. “If we follow the CDC recommendations, we have the ability to limit the spread of COVID 19 in our community.”
He urged everyone to follow the 3 Ws: wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash your hands often.
He also announced an executive order that will require masks to be worn at all public places on the Qualla Boundary Friday, June 26 at 5 p.m.
“It is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power to protect each other,” he said.
He noted that Native Americans are at an increased risk of complications, and that it’s particularly true for the elderly.
As of Monday afternoon, Cherokee hospital reports 59 total positive cases of COVID-19, with 29 reported as recovered and 1 death. The tribe has led in testing in the region with a total of 4,225 completed tests since March 1.
For Swain County, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 has continued to slowly tick upward. On Monday, Swain County Health Department reported 47 total positive cases.
There have been 1,639 tests completed with results pending on 123.
Among those cases testing positive in the county, 33 are among residents in the 18719 zip code, followed by 8 in 28713 and 6 in 28789.