Taos Pueblo

In light of a recent surge in cases on the reservation, Taos Pueblo tribal officials announced on Friday (Nov. 20) that extended family gathering and non-essential visits by nontribal members and tribal members traveling from outside Taos County to the Pueblo would be barred until further notice.

A rise in COVID-19 cases and quarantines at Taos Pueblo has prompted tribal officials to impose stricter measures to prevent the spread of the disease on the Native American reservation bordering the town of Taos.

Officials issued the update to the public in an announcement video by Tribal Gov. Clyde M. Romero Sr., Tribal Secretary Dwayne Lefthand Sr. and Taos Pueblo Health Nurse Shannon Lujan on Friday (Nov. 19). The announcement was made in English and Tiwa, the native language of Taos Pueblo. The video was posted to the tribe’s Emergency Management Department website, emergencymanagement.taospueblo.org.

The announcement was timed to bring the community up to speed on the state of the pandemic as the Thanksgiving Day holiday approaches. After the governor made an opening statement in Tiwa, Lefthand said, “Since August 19, we have had an increase in cases both on tribal land and tribal members living in (the town of Taos). In our latest spike we have had 16 tribal members test positive in the last seven days."

Lefthand said there were 10 tribal members in quarantine as of Friday.

He said the spike in cases at Taos Pueblo was no surprise in light of a steady rise in cases this fall across the state and in other parts of Taos County. “We have had our share of breakthrough cases, which means a person contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated," Lefthand said.

Due to the rising cases and outbreaks associated with indoor family gatherings, the tribe is now requiring the following on reservation land:

• No extended family gatherings.

• No nontribal persons allowed entry unless essential.

• Tribal members from out of county will not be allowed entry without proof of vaccination.

“If COVID case numbers keep rising and guidelines are not being followed,” Lefthand said, “curfew restrictions will go back to 10 p.m. and other stringent guidelines will be put in place.”

Lujan said she wanted to remind tribal members to continue wearing facemasks “and around people you don’t live with. Social distance as much as possible. Avoid large gatherings," she said.

If tribal members exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms, she recommends getting tested as as soon as possible. Tests are available at the Taos-Picuris Indian Health Clinic on the reservation. After hours, she said, at-home test kits are available at the roadblock located at the reservation’s southern entrance on Veteran’s Highway. Lujan said there are also tests provided at Holy Cross Medical Center, located at 1397 Weimer Road in the town of Taos, at Taos Urgent Care and other sites across Taos County.

“If you do have cold or flu-like symptoms, please avoid others and stay home until you have tested and have been told it’s either negative or are given further instructions. If you are awaiting a COVID test result, please stay home until you have been instructed otherwise,” Lujan said.

Persons who have tested positive using a home kit or elsewhere from the Taos-Picuris IHS clinic are asked to contact Lujan or Ezra Bayles, director of the Taos Pueblo Emergency Management Department. This is so patients  receive support services during the period of isolation while they are ill. “It’s also important you notify your primary care provider so they can evaluate you to see if you are eligible for the monoclonal antibody infusion,” Lujan said. “This is an infusion that is given to high-risk individuals over the age of 18 and has been proven to help reduce severe illness and hospitalization.”

Persons who may have had close contact with someone who tested positive are also asked to contact Lujan or Bayles. “We do have services to help you while you are in quarantine,” she said.

“Please get vaccinated and encourage those around you, in your household, or those you interact with to do so as well,” she said. “We do have vaccine available right now for people over the age of 5.”

Appointments can be made through the Taos-Picuris Indian Health Clinic. Call (575) 758-6969.

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