Four members of Arapaho tribe die from coronavirus
April 16, 2020
Four members of the Northern Arapaho Indian Tribe died this week as a result of the coronavirus, a tribal official announced Tuesday.
Lee Spoonhunter, co-chair of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, confirmed the deaths, which occurred Monday.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the Northern Arapaho Tribe confirms the deaths of four of our own who tested positive for the coronavirus COVID-19,” he said. “The Northern Arapaho Business Council offers a heartfelt condolences to the families of the loved ones.”
Spoohunter added that because of restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, other tribal members will not be able to take part in traditional ceremonies.
“Because of the restrictions put in place, we cannot mourn together as a family or a tribe and give our people the traditional Arapaho protocols to have our people heal,” he said.
Spoonhunter also urged the younger members of the tribe to observe social distancing recommendations and to remain at home when possible to avoid exposing family members to coronavirus.
“Do not continue to be out in public places, possibly exposing yourself and our loved ones to this deadly disease,” he said. “We realize how difficult it is to be at home and away from our friends. But we sternly ask you to respect our community … by taking these precautionary measures.”
Spoonhunter’s plea was echoed by Fremont County Commissioners, who issued a statement expressing condolences for the deaths.
“We must continue to be vigilant about following public health guidance and social distancing, particularly because this disease is so dangerous to those who are most vulnerable,” the statement said.
News of the deaths came one day after Gov. Mark Gordon engaged with protesters outside of the Capitol as they urged him to lift the public health restrictions that have been in place since March.
Gordon told the protesters that the state will lift the orders when it appears prudent to do so.
The protesters attending the “Rally for the Choice to Work” had gathered to encourage the state to lift the restrictions put into place in March to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Rally participants, who came to Cheyenne from across the state, said Gordon’s decision to leave the restrictions in place until at least April 30 will harm the economy.
“Everyone’s income supports their family, and there’s a way to do this without shutting the whole economy down,” said Ben Zeller, a small business owner from Cody.
“Today, you’re hearing people who want the choice to go back to work and get this economy moving in the right direction,” said M. Lee Hasenauer, a former Laramie County commissioner.
But Gordon declined to set an exact date for the restrictions to end, saying it would be best to make sure the coronavirus no longer poses a safety threat before taking such action.
“When we go back to work, we want to make sure we can continue to work,” he said.
Supporters of removing the restricts also gathered in Jackson’s Town Square on Monday to discuss Teton County’s “stay-at-home” order with passers by.
Bob Culver, a member of the Jackson Hole Tea Party, which organized the gathering, said the event was not a protest.
“I didn’t organize a protest or a demonstration,” he said. “I just wanted people to come out and feel free to talk.”
About 15 people gathered for the event.
Wyoming officials have resisted issuing a statewide “stay-at-home” order, instead approving orders closing schools and businesses likely to attract more than 10 people, closing businesses that provide personal services such as hair salons and tattoo parlors and prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people.
The state was the last in the nation to record a death attributed to the coronavirus and the last to see confirmed cases top 300.
As of Tuesday morning, Wyoming’s coronavirus case count stood at 317, with four new cases being detected in two counties on Monday.
The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, also said the number of people to recover from the coronavirus increased by four to bring the total to 237. Of the recoveries, 170 have been confirmed by a laboratory and 67 are considered “probable.”
As of Tuesday morning, Laramie County had 73 cases; Teton County had 62; Fremont County had 51; Natrona County had 38; Campbell County had 13; Sheridan County had 12; Johnson County had 11; Sweetwater had 10; Converse had nine; Albany and Uinta had six; Lincoln and Washakie had five; Carbon and Crook had four, and Goshen had three. Big Horn, Hot Springs, Niobrara, Park and Sublette all had one case.
Platte and Weston counties remained free of any confirmed cases.