SANTEE, Neb. — The Santee Sioux Nation (SSN) has lifted its mask mandate for COVID-19, although tribal entities can still enforce a mandate.
The tribal council issued a statement Wednesday on its Facebook page announcing the change. The Santee Sioux Nation is located in northern Knox County, Nebraska.
The memorandum outlined a number of factors for lifting the mandate, including no positive tests among reservation residents since early January, the large number of vaccinated residents and the availability of the vaccine at a number of locations.
While lifting the mask mandate, the tribal council advises continued mask usage for those not vaccinated for the virus. The tribe also encourages vaccinations for those eligible to receive them.
The tribe, along with its public health and law enforcement services, has taken measures during the pandemic for the protection of residents and seeking to stop the virus’ spread.
The following is the memorandum posted Wednesday on Facebook:
“From the beginning of this pandemic in March 2020, the tribe and the COVID-19 task force primary concern was and continues to be the health and safety of our tribal members, employees and patrons.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to thall those who have lost loved ones and have had their own personal struggles brought on by COVID-19.
“We have been fortunate to have not had a positive case of COVID-19 within a resident of the SSN reservation since Jan. 6, 2021. The Santee Health Center began giving COVID-19 vaccinations to community workers on Dec. 21, 2020, and continues to do so. In addition, the vaccine has been and continues to be readily available at multiple other locations as well.
“Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. The tribe strongly advises that all those eligible to receive the vaccine do so. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you get COVID-19.
“Protecting yourself also protects those around you, like those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or those who can’t get vaccinated. Another benefit is that, once you’re fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you can safely resume many activities that you did prior to the pandemic, without wearing a mask.
“After consultation with Chairman (Roger) Trudell, it has been decided that due to the few number of COVID-19 cases in the region, a large percentage of community members having received the vaccine and the continued easy accessibility of the vaccine, that it is safe to move forward and remove the mask mandate for all tribal entities.
“The tribe strongly advised individuals that are not vaccinated to continue to wear a mask in public per CDC guidelines.
“Each tribal entity reserves the right and may choose to continue to enforce the mask mandate or adopt a modified mandate in order to best meet the needs of their organization.”
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