By Angel Ellis, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma —Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health reports that nearly a third of all COVID-19 related deaths in Oklahoma are happening to citizens who are using tribal health facilities. Due to the tribe’s ability to run community hospitals, not all those affect are tribal citizens. A large portion of COVID-19 deaths and increasing infection rates in on the MCN reservation has resulted in increasing rates of infection for Creek Citizens.
On Sept. 22, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health reported that more than 24,651 positive COVID-19 cases occurred within the tribe’s reservation. The latest reports show Oklahoma has 79,072.
Within the MCNDH systems 12,096 tests have been processed of which, 10,533 were negative. Approximately 1,488 positive COVID-19 cases have been processed through MCN tribal health systems.
The positive rate of tests processed through tribal health facilities is approximately 12.49%.
Nationally, the CDC reports that COVID-19 positive average of 8.3% of all tests.
While nationally the CDC is reporting some stabilization in rates of infection, the State of Oklahoma has fluctuated back and forth between declining and increasing rates and is currently climbing back up to its peak daily average which occurred on day 129 of the pandemic.
On Sept. 22 Oklahoma became almost second highest test positivity rate in the US and the fifth highest for new COVID-19 cases daily per capita.
With the reservation covering 11 counties of the state, it places the indigenous communities like the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in the “red zone.” For towns like Okmulgee, Eufaula, and Okemah, the only or largest health facilities are tribally operated. These facilities see patients regardless of tribal citizenship.
On Sept. 18, the MCNDH posted a chart showing that in the last 24 hours there was an increase of 236 cases of positive COVID-19. Of those new cases 140 were in Tulsa Co.
In August, CDC Microbiologist Ayan Chakrabarti was deployed to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to assist the tribe with contact tracing strategies. By Aug. 25, the MCNDH began sharing COVID-19 numbers through Facebook posts. The first report showed 243 deaths due to the virus.
To date there have been 315 deaths due to COVID-19 reported by the MCNDH since the tribe experienced its first positive test result on March 13. Positive cases processed through MCNDH have increased more than 300 in the last month of reporting.
To date, 948 deaths have been recorded in Oklahoma due to COVID-19. Almost one third of those are reported from the MCN reservation.
Most of the tribe’s facilities can process rapid tests. Tribal offices continue with social distancing practices and operate under a mask-wearing mandate. If you believe you have symptoms call the MCN COVID-19 hotline at 918-758-3550 and a nurse practitioner will conduct an over the phone screening.