TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation continues efforts to help its tribal citizens, employees, health centers and schools educate and prepare for the coronavirus within the Cherokee Nation.

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Cherokee Nation, the tribe wants citizens to stay informed and take precautions to reduce risk.

The federal government passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to combat COVID-19, which includes $40 million set aside for tribes. 

“We must all act to stay healthy, monitoring our own health and that of our family, limiting travel if possible, and checking on our elders who are most vulnerable,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The Cherokee Nation is securing federal funding to help us combat and treat any coronavirus cases, ensure we have the ability to do our own testing and that our medical staff are trained to identify, treat and respond to patients efficiently.”

A Cherokee Nation call center (1-833-528-0063) has been established for tribal citizens who have questions about the coronavirus. It will be open noon to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday. The call center has up to six lines to ensure tribal citizens have access to information.

If tribal citizens have symptoms like cough, fever or other respiratory problems, they should contact their Cherokee Nation health center or primary care physician first and not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. At Cherokee Nation health centers, health employees are also screening patients at the doors to ensure increased safety.

The Cherokee Nation is working closely each day with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Indian Health Service to follow recommended safety protocols.

With spring break approaching, the Cherokee Nation also asks tribal citizens to stay up to date with CDC's travel health notices related to this outbreak, available at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

The tribe encourages citizens to check on their friends and neighbors. Elders and anyone with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, are more at risk.

The Cherokee Nation is also taking a variety of measures to protect its workforce, such as stepping up cleaning and disinfection procedures in all facilities and restricting work-related travel as warranted.

Due to the risk posed by COVID-19, Cherokee Nation administration has postponed upcoming, large-gathering events such as the Kansas City at-large community meeting and Cherokee Days at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Both events will be rescheduled.

The Cherokee Nation has also formed a response team and is working with its departments such as health services, human services, veterans center, food distribution, education and more to get safety information out to help better protect all citizens.