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MHA Nation, New Town COVID-19 Task Force working to flatten the curve

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The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, as well as the city of New Town, have formed a task force to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and the group is working together to keep people alive. 

“COVID don’t care who you are, what color you are, or how rich or poor. It has no prejudices,” said Dr. Monica Mayer, Tribal Council member.

With six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mountrail County, Dr. Mayer is just one member of the MHA COVID-19 task force. 

The mission: flatten the curve. 

Scott Satermo is the CEO and unified commander of the task force. He said although they’ve never dealt with anything like this before, they’re going to use their expertise to come up with different plans to protect the community. 

“Sometimes we won’t get it right, but we’re going to continue to try and do everything we can to ensure that people don’t get sick,” Satermo said.

Mayer said having constant communication between the tribe, task force, city of New Town, surrounding counties and the state’s Health Department is what will help keeping a unified plan. 

“Disease supercedes everything. We all must work together,” Mayer said.

On Monday, the Tribal Business Council OK’d a curfew that requires people to be indoors from sunset to sunrise. The task force is still coordinating with law enforcement and security officers to outline if and how people out past curfew will be fined and escorted home. 

To help spread the message, they looked to Jon Brady. Brady’s father was a messenger for the Hidatsa people many years ago.

Now he has an important message to send.

“One street I went on, there was plenty of youth there. They stopped what they were doing and they had to hear what I had to say. I looked back and they all went in their homes so I thought that was really a nice, quick energy that they listened,” said Brady, compliance officer.

The members are also delivering food, medications and other things to people who are isolating and in need. 

They urge everyone, on and off the reservation, to stay calm, and stay home — no matter how hard that may be. 

“Our communities are so tightly knit that we’re in contact with each other all the time. That’s going to be one of the hardest things is not being able to go over there and visit with your mother, with your father, with your aunts and uncles. That’s one of the hardest things,” said Marle Baker, incident commander.

Earlier this week, Councilwoman Mayer made a $10,000 donation to the 4 Bears Casino Employee Assistance Fund. The casino has had its doors closed for about two weeks.

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