Testing being performed on Abbott’s ID NOW platform. | Image via Abbott.

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The Hoopa Valley Tribe this morning announced that it has a limited supply of COVID-19 rapid testing kits available at the K’ima:w Medical Center, allowing care providers there to get results in less than 15 minutes.

The testing kits, produced by Abbott Laboratories and distributed by the federal government, have been in extremely short supply across the country, and the K’ima:w Medical Center in Hoopa appears to be the first facility in the county to receive them.

Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Byron Nelson Jr. told the Outpost this morning that he advocated for tribal access to the kits during a recent conference call between representatives of more than 600 Native American tribes and officials from the federal Indian Health Service.

“I was able to ask a question of them, get on [the line], and I asked them if they were going to advocate for all tribes to receive the rapid testing devices,” he said. “I think it might have prompted them to contact Abbott Labs.” 

The tribe received 48 of the precious tests, he said, and they are available to residents of the reservation, whether they’re members of the tribe or not. Nelson said these diagnostic tools could help Humboldt County reduce the spread of the viral outbreak if supplies increase.

“As you probably know, that’s how South Korea got control of [the COVID-19 outbreak],” he said.

The tribe is also looking to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus by following the county’s lead in making facial coverings mandatory when out in public. A poll on the matter has gone out to members of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council, and the results will be ratified at the next meeting, scheduled for April 30. “But [the order] will go in place after the poll vote,” Nelson said, adding that none of the council members so far have indicated that they won’t support the measure.

The tribe has adopted a shelter-in-place order as well as a curfew in Hoopa from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Starting Sunday, however, curfew hours will change to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

To date, the tribe has conducted 38 COVID-19 tests at the K’ima:w Medical Center with just one confirmed positive case. Countywide, 1,800 tests have been performed with 52 coming back positive. All but two of those confirmed cases have since recovered.

Like virtually everywhere in the country, Humboldt County still lacks sufficient testing resources to conduct the broad-based community testing that health experts say is necessary before safely reopening the economy. The 1,800 tests conducted countywide to date represent just 1.3 percent of our population.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe provided more information, including contact info for the K’ima:w Medical Center, instructions for obtaining groceries and firewood and a COVID-19 response team update, in today’s morning report, which can be downloaded by clicking here.