Arizona National Guard service members take part in a COVID-19 testing event on the Fort Apache Reservation, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, on July 16, 2020. Photo: Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin / U.S. Air National Guard

Tim Giago: Common sense instead of politics needed to stop coronavirus

Notes from Indian Country
Common sense instead of politics needed to stop coronavirus

How has the Covid-19 changed our lives in Indian Country?

So many small things that we used to do as a matter of fact have gone by the wayside. For instance, I am an avid reader so I subscribe to several news magazines like Time Magazine and Newsweek.

After I finished reading them I always took them to the Indian Health Service Hospital in Rapid City known as the Sioux San. Having had to sit in the waiting room there for hours I knew that it would be good if the waiting patients had something to read. And now that is gone.

Tim Giago. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

There are no more waiting rooms. In order to get your medications you now must call the hospital and place your order. You then drive to the hospital where the management has set up a table manned by hospital staff. You give them your name and they take it to the pharmacy, pick up your medicine and then bring it to you while you wait in your car. That is the way it is done now.

Oftentimes when friends came into town I would take them out to lunch. With most of the restaurants in town now offering only curbside service and with many not having an open dining area, this is also a major change in lifestyles.

Movies, forget it. Basketball tournaments, forget it. Black Hills Powwow, forget it. But don’t ever count out the greed over human lives exhibited by the community of Sturgis where a five-member council decided to go ahead with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally come hell or high water. This means that more than 100,000 bikers from Covid-19 ravaged states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and other states will be pouring into our small communities carrying a virus that can kill.

Said one Sturgis official, “Oh, we intend to test all of our town residents after the rally is over.” Say what?

Those bikers do not spend all of their time in Sturgis. They travel to all of the tourist sites in the hills and eat at all of the fast food places in Rapid City. If the bars are open you can bet they will flood them also.

Many of us were appalled when Donald Trump and Gov. Kristi Noem held their world famous 4th of July Rally at Mount Rushmore in the midst of this epidemic. Any reports that mention any of the attendees catching the virus have been suppressed so we will never know if anyone caught the virus and what is more, because they have not been reported they are free to spread the virus further.

The death toll from the virus in Pennington County is rising. Every day a couple of people, mostly elderly, die of the virus. Because South Dakota has such a small population Gov. Noem can brag that her open door policy worked and the number of cases and deaths are small compared to other states.

The number of deaths and of those afflicted is small because the population is small not because Noem was a medical genius. 134 people have died unnecessarily while Noem and her cohorts brag about how successful her approach has been. We beg Miss Noem to go visit some of the families of those that have died from this virus and see if they believe your approach has been such a success.

The disease would have killed many more in South Dakota if not for Mayor Paul TenHaken of Sioux Falls and Mayor Steve Allender of Rapid City who took it upon themselves to protect the residents of their cities by using common sense, something that is apparently missing in Pierre.

We are living during difficult times because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those challenges can affect us both physically...

Posted by Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board on Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Politics and greed are continuing to push a disease that should have been stopped in its tracks a month ago. Those deaths may just be numbers to the politicians but to the families of the dead and dying they are not just numbers but mothers, fathers, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and sons and daughters. A children’s summer camp in the Black Hills was nearly overrun with victims of the coronavirus this last month. And schools are going to open?

It is time for the White House to stop the lies and to come up with a solution. It is time for South Dakota’s governor to stop the lies and seriously consider the health of the children, teachers, janitors, bus drivers, cooks and other essential employees of schools she is forcing to open.

This is not a matter of politics: It is a matter of life and death.

Contact Tim Giago at Giago has been a newspaper publisher for 40 years and was the founder of the Native American Journalists Association.

Note: Content © Tim Giago

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