The Warm Springs Reservation has become the first government in Oregon to make quarantine and masks mandatory under certain circumstances. This week, the Tribal Council ordered any citizen or tribal employee working on the reservation to self-isolate if a healthcare professional says they should.
The step comes after a spike in positive COVID-19 tests on the reservation, where citizens are also being told to wear face masks in public if they can’t maintain six feet of distance.
Warm Springs is a sovereign nation, which means state laws don’t apply. The tribes’ approach to slowing the spread of disease is more drastic than what’s percolating in nearby counties under state authority.
In neighboring Jefferson County, officials are drafting a plan to be among the first places in Oregon to ease restrictions, starting May 15.
Warm Springs government buildings will remain closed until at least June 1. The reservation’s main revenue source, Indian Head Casino, also remains closed.
The reservation is home to around 4,000 people, many of whom are intimately connected to Jefferson, Wasco and Deschutes counties through work, family, shopping, and before the virus — school.
There were 11 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 on the reservation, as of May 4, according to the tribal authorities.