Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Six months in, tribal nations cautiously optimistic about COVID-19 response


September 29, 2020

Ryan O'Brien of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe waits for Lance Roeschlein to find a suitable spot to insert a needle at a mobile clinic at Grand Casino Hinkley last week. The clinic was set up in a large ballroom to encourage social distancing while blood samples were being collected to test for COVID-19 antibodies. Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, there was great concern about the potential impact the virus might have on Native American tribes in Minnesota.

Now, a little more than six months since the state registered its first case of COVID-19, tribal nations in Minnesota are measured in their optimism about the effects of their efforts to manage the pandemic - but looking cautiously ahead to what health officials warn will be a difficult fall and winter.

The locations of most reservations in Minnesota provided a buffer against the early spread of the virus, allowing tribal leaders time to prepare their response. They knew they would have to act quickly. Tribal health care has long been underfunded and is often a patchwork. High rates of chronic health conditions, including diabetes and obesity, put American Indians at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19.


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