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Warm Springs

Warm Springs recovering from initial hard hit of COVID-19 pandemic

There have been 22 deaths, nearly 700 COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed the way of living on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, according to Louie Pitt, Jr, director of government affairs and planning for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, there have been 27 deaths reported by Jefferson County, and 22 of them came from the reservation.

So why was there an initial high death count on the reservation?

Pitt told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday it had to do with their lifestyle. He said the tribe members are gregarious and like being with each other. He said the tribe initially didn’t realize how serious and deadly the disease was.

The Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center has conducted a total of 8,354 COVID tests to date. Of those, 697 have resulted in positive cases, and 79 residents have been were hospitalized.

Warm Springs, like the rest of the country, has also been receiving and administering COVID vaccinations to its residents.

They have administered a total of 1,095 Moderna vaccine first doses, with 496 residents having received their second dose.

 “We're doing everything we can -- educating folks, trying to make sure everyone understands they have to do the whole package of protection,” Pitt said. “Vaccination is nice, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything. You still have to do the social distancing, the masking, avoiding gatherings, washing hands often.”

Although the Warm Springs reservation initially had a high COVID death rate, Pitt said it now sees the trend going down.

“I think our community has stepped up to understand how serious this is, so congratulations, Warm Springs,” he said.

Central Oregon / Coronavirus / News / Top Stories
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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

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