CHIEF'S MESSAGE updated 3/30/20
Dear Tribal Citizen,
I first want to extend my well wishes and hope that you and your families remain in positive spirits. I am writing to update you on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, just 17 days from the first confirmed case in Maine, there are now 275 cases of COVID-19 in the state and sadly, three people have died.
The number of cases in Penobscot County has doubled over the weekend, officials suspect community spread and expect the number of cases to continue to rise. It is not my intent to scare you, but to alert you to the level of seriousness of our situation. It is critically important that everyone continue to shelter in place - stay in your homes, do not visit, stay 6 ft. away from others and only leave to meet essential needs or fulfill essential responsibilities. It is more important than ever that you follow Tribal Council’s directive prohibiting visitation by non-community members. Public Safety has been instructed to strictly enforce this emergency rule. Thank you for cooperating and putting the health and safety of our community as a whole ahead of your own comfort during this time. Many of our members are especially vulnerable and at a high-risk for complications due to COVID-19, including our elders, immune compromised, cancer patients, and those with respiratory illnesses. With your cooperation, with each one of us taking the responsibility to shelter in place, we can succeed in protecting our community. Every time we leave our homes we are exposing ourselves and others; do so only when necessary and in the safest way possible.
Tribal government continues to work diligently to provide food to those that need it. Last week, our staff delivered over 460 meals to our elders and 87 boxes from the food pantry, nearly twice our normal amount. We are fortunate to have the resources and personnel to provide this service. Thank you for understanding that while we cannot offer a wide variety of food items, we are doing the best we can. I know you will agree that our staff is doing a great job accessing and distributing resources, as is Indian Island School who is delivering meals to our children. I appreciate their work and partnership with us.
Tribal administration is advocating on the national level to secure much needed resources and relief. Our lobbyists are working hard to ensure that recently passed Congressional relief bills will benefit Indian Country. Tribal administration and staff continue to work with many federal agencies and tribal organizations, including FEMA, Indian Health Services, United South and Eastern Tribes, the BIA and the CDC to gather information and secure resources.
While this time is stressful and uncertain, we must continue to band together for the benefit of our community and tribe. While there are many things out of our control, following tribal pandemic rules are well within our control – shelter in place, wash hands frequently, stay 6 ft. away from others, do not have any non-community visitors.
It is important we remain mindful and appreciative of all tribal administration and staff are doing to meet your basic needs: delivering meals, providing health care and prescriptions, repairing homes, and providing for our safety. We are grateful to those that leave their homes and families so we can stay in ours. When you see them please say thank you.
Please help to get this information out to everyone by sharing it with friends and family. We have stopped door to door deliveries to further prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
It remains my absolute honor to be the Chief of this great Nation, and I am uplifted by the character and fortitude our people are demonstrating during these difficult times. My thoughts, those of our Administration and the Tribal Council are always with you. Stay home and be safe!
Kirk E. Francis, Chief