Fort Hall– the Tribal Office of Emergency Management (TOEM) officially reports the weekly number of COVID-19 cases on the Fort Hall Reservation. The total number of tribal members impacted by COVID-19 is currently at 623 cases (this number includes positives and recovered) since the pandemic started. Of the 623 cases, 65 are currently positive and being monitored, 608 have recovered, 4 are currently hospitalized, and 11 reported deaths due to COVID-19.

With the recent Thanksgiving and upcoming holiday season, Tribal health officials from I.H.S and HRSA are seeing an increase of positive cases on the reservation especially in households with multi-generation families (i.e. grandparents, mom/dad, teenagers, and toddlers). The Fort Hall community is experiencing an alarming positivity rate of 30% as a result of uncontrolled community spread of the virus. 

In response, the Fort Hall Business Council enacted a Facemask Mandate for the entire Fort Hall Reservation that went into effect on Friday, December 4, 2020. The mandate includes the following information: an individual must wear a facemask at all public places and businesses, including restaurants and bar (casino), except when eating or drinking, on the reservation. The facemask MUST fit properly over the nose and mouth to prevent the spread of the virus. Persons under the age of 2 years old and persons having trouble breathing are not required to wear a mask. If an individual fails to comply with the Order may be asked to leave the business or public space and may be issued a Citation of Infraction for failing to abide by the mandate and may be responsible for paying a penalty not exceeding $100.00 for the first offense, $300.00 for the second offense and $500.00 for the third offense or more and no imprisonment.  The official resolution is available on the Tribes website, or on the Tribes Facebook page posted on December 4, 2020. Copies of the resolution are also available at the Tribes front desk located at the front entrance of the Tribal Business Center. 

Because there are individuals in the community that may be asymptomatic (carrier of the COVID19 virus but shows no symptoms), the Tribes Emergency Operations Team has initiated a Community Wide Screening that started on Tuesday, December 8th at Buffalo Lodge (9am-4pm) and Bannock Creek District (10am-4pm) lodges and continues for the next two-weeks. A flyer with the screening dates was posted on the Tribes Facebook page on Monday, December 7th.  Pre-registration for this community screening started last Thursday, December 3rd and continued on Friday, December 4th and Monday, December 7th at the old casino parking lot at the brown tent. 

The Fort Hall Business Council approved a gift card incentive for those individuals that participate in the 8-week screening. If you did not pre-register, you can still register at the screening sites. Registration involves filling out a 2-page info sheet. Individuals are only allowed to receive one incentive; please plan to get screened in your district to make it easier for you and your family. If you do not reside in a specific reservation district then pick one screening site to get screened weekly. This is a free and open to all Fort Hall residents to get screened. 

According to I.H.S Health official Lori Snidow, “this mass screening allows us to create a database for the Fort Hall Reservation to help us identify the asymptomatic cases and get them quarantined.”  “We are the second Tribe in the United States to offer this mass community screening.” In order for us to provide this free service at two districts per day, we asked the National Guard to assist in the manpower to maintain the screening sites. There are 20 national guard staff that have been deployed to Fort Hall for this specific event. All National Guards are unarmed and ready to assist the Tribes in this community pandemic effort. 

The Tribal health officials are still seeing gatherings occur on the reservation larger than 10 people in a room without an approved Safety Plan. We urge committees, and/or organizations, and district lodges to contact Tribes Emergency Management office at 208-478-3727 for any questions. 

Did you know? HRSA and I.H.S both offer rapid testing at their facilities. HRSA’s rapid testing provides results in 15-minutes and they have open hours on the weekends until 8PM. To call HRSA and schedule an appointment, drive thru style, call 208-478-3987. To call I.H.S, Monday-Friday, 8-5PM at 208-238-5494. 

With the Christmas holiday coming up in a few weeks, health officials are predicting another spike in cases and are stressing to not have large gatherings with other families traveling in or coming from another home. 

If you are contacted by a ‘Contact Tracer’, it means that you were in close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19 and you will be instructed to schedule a COVID-19 test immediately and quarantine. Quarantining is important and to check if you develop COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. If you get a message from a Contact Tracer, please return the phone call back immediately, so they can provide you with important information and support.

The next food distribution is Thursday, December 17th and continues every 3rd Thursday of the month for the Fort Hall community at the Old Casino (south side). The Idaho Food Bank is teaming up with the Tribes to provide this community assistance. Please be early as there will only be 200 food boxes for EACH distribution, 1st come, 1st serve basis.

We will host a Facebook Live this Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 12-1PM on the Tribes Facebook page for more information on what was included in this article and any other news. 

For tribal resources check out the Tribes COVID-19 website at