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Oyate Health Center reports 13 new cases of COVID-19, comments on Floyd protests

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Jerilyn Church

Jerilyn Church

The Oyate Health Center confirmed 13 new positive cases of COVID-19 among IHS patients on Monday afternoon.

Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, said the new positives came from 41 tests, meaning 28 were negative. Oyate has had a total of 72 positive cases out of 348 tests conducted.

Church also commented Monday on the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody last week. She said the country has witnessed the proliferation of both historical and current trauma from the incident.

“Many of our native brothers and sisters share in the grief and mourning of his death,” Church said. “This sorrow is at a time when our Oyate is struggling to meet the needs of children and elders and to stay healthy. We are reminded of our history of injustices. We recognize the failures of systems that, for far too long, have perpetuated indignity and foster oppression in our communities.”

Church said the peaceful protests taking place across the country “reflect the moral conscience of most,” but that the peaceful protests have been eclipsed by “anger and rage that could no longer be contained, resulting in riots.”

“As Lakota, we understand that anarchy is a reflection of long-term neglect of a government that has forgotten its people,” Church said. “We understand that change is needed; this is no new news to our families that struggle to survive.  We recognize that the systems that are supposed to serve justice fail us and that systems designed to provide resources to keep our community well has failed us.”

Church said the Lakota people do not need more destruction and that the voices of peaceful protest must be heard. Church’s full statement can be found here.

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