Four coronavirus cases have been reported on Mescalero Apache tribal lands in southern New Mexico.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

President Gabe Aguilar of the Mescalero Apache Tribe announced the first confirmed death of a tribal member resulting from COVID-19 on Tuesday, May 26.

The elderly woman tested positive last week.

Testing at the Mescalero Apache Tribe Community Center began on Sunday, May 24. On May 25, the tribe confirmed four positive cases. To date there were 28 negative cases reported as a result of testing.

“The individual that passed was the second resident to test positive. She was tested just hours after our first case was confirmed. It has been only a few days since the virus came to the Reservation. This virus moves quickly and targets our elders," stated Aguilar in a release.

READ: Mescalero declares emergency, orders residents to stay-at-home order

The reservation was placed on a 14-day lockdown. Tribal offices and businesses on the tribal lands remained closed. Residents were warned that citations would be issued for non-compliance of the lockdown orders which were expected to be extended, according to Aguilar.

The Mescalero Apache Tribe declared a state of emergency on May 22. 

“The Tribe is being strict for a reason, and worked hard over the last two months to avoid this. I am heartbroken. The family is heartbroken. But we must keep going. We must come together to stop the virus," Aguilar said.

READ: Mescalero Apache Tribe receives $13.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds

Aguilar asked that other tribal members please respect the family of the deceased and not visit their home or call the family. The name of the deceased was not released to the media. 

"The family has asked that everyone remain home due to the serious nature of the virus," he said.

Roads into reservation remain closed

Roads into the reservation remained open only to tribal members under strictest conditions enforced by tribal law officials. Anyone found in violation of orders issued by the tribe will be issued a citation.

"We have closed our roads for a reason; we have to keep our elderly and tribal members safe. We cannot have the virus spread on our lands anymore than it already has. We are protecting out people," he said.

Alternate routes for roads that are closed:

  • White Mountain Rd off Hwy 70 closed to access Pena, Carrizo, and Palmer Loop (use Botella Road). 
  • Road off of Hwy 70 is closed to the upper part of Old Road: use Old Road on the west side of Hwy 70.
  • Yucca Dr and Broken Arrow are closed: use Yucca and Broken Arrrow on Mescalero Blvd by the Center. 

READ: Roads into Mescalero tribe lands will be blocked to prevent coronavirus spread

Tribal members were allowed to travel with one person per vehicle, to buy food and take care of necessities a few hours once a week under the restrictions.

Stores on the reservation are closed.

"We will be taking food and supplies to our member's homes. We do not want them leaving their homes at this time unless it is an emergency," he said.

What's open in the tribe

Tribal Departments are partially open with very limited services and employees working, according to Aguilar. 

Mescalero tribe contacts

  • Accounting: 575-464-9251
  • Administration: Crystal Lester 575-464-9209
  • Care Center: 575-464-4802
  • Cattle Growers: 575-464-4703
  • Center Maintenance: 575-464-9260
  • CHR: 575-464-9256
  • Conservation: 575-464-9323
  • DRMP: 575-464-4711
  • Elderly Center: 575-464-1614
  • Fire & Rescue: 575-464-3473
  • Fish Hatchery: 575-464-8768
  • Four Directions Treatment & Recovery Center: 575-464-4432
  • Gas Company: 575-464-4323
  • Housing: 575-464-9235
  • HR: 575-464-9276
  • Parks & Recreation: 575-464-2988
  • Prosecutor’s Office: 575-464-9201
  • Public Defender: 575-464-9213
  • Responsible Gaming: 575-464-7106
  • Sawmill Security on Duty
  • Social Services: 575-464-9328 (press 2)
  • Tribal Court: 575-464-0414
  • Tribal Maintenance: 575-464-9289
  • Tribal Store: 575-464-9319
  • Utilities: 575-464-0254
  • VAWA: 575-464-0079

Tribal courts remained opened Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

READ: Visitors flock to Grindstone Lake,  restaurants during Phase 1 of operations

The tribal store is open to tribal members only from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Aguilar asked that when making calls to any tribal departments "to please have patience when calling as there is only one person answering phone calls."

"I am asking for everyone to pray for us. We are waiting on more COVID-19 tests results and are concerned that there will be more positive results. I am concerned that this may be just the beginning for positive cases we will see. We will remain on lock down until further notice," he said. "We believe it is going to get much worse for us."

Coronavirus updates

The tribe asked for donations of food, household supplies and hygiene products. Anyone anyone that can help should call 575-973-3731 or its website at www.mescaleroapachetribe.com.

READ: New Mexico passes 7,000 COVID-19 cases, 2,500 recoveries

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact the Coronavirus Hotline 1-855-600-3453 or visit NMDOH website at cv.nmhealth.org.

The Tribe will provide updates on its official website at www.mescaleroapachetribe.com and its Facebook page.

As of Saturday, New Mexico had 6,795 positive coronavirus cases reported and 308 deaths.

To date, Lincoln County had three positive cases, and no reported deaths. Otero County had 12 positive cases, one reported death with 2,194 tested.

This article will be update as more information becomes available.

Pamela L. Bonner may be reached at Pbonner@RudosoNews.com, Pam Bonner on Facebook, @PamelaLBonner1 on Twitter, or by phone at 575-202-5555.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.ruidosonews.com/story/news/local/community/2020/05/26/coronavirus-mescalero-apache-tribe-reports-first-covid-19-death/5258713002/