The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, amid a recent jump in coronavirus cases, has pushed forward in its efforts provide vaccines to members.
As of Jan. 21, 426 individuals have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 86 have received their second “booster” shot that completes the vaccination, per data from the Indian Health Service. About 15% of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has now received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccination campaign continues as the tribe has seen a significant jump in positive cases in recent days.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Chairman Manuel Heart, in a Jan. 19 announcement, said the tribe had seen an additional 57 positive cases over the previous week. The tribe has had 424 positive cases from March 2020 to Jan. 19.
According to Heart’s statement, six tribe members have died from the virus. One death involved an individual with other health conditions that were accentuated by COVID.
“The coronavirus is nothing to play with,” Heart said. It impacts lives, and it can really hurt and impact a person’s future health.”
Heart also urged members to wear masks, social-distance and abide by stay-at-home orders.
“Today I’m going to say that not some of you, but a lot of you, are not following the requests from the Tribal Council and our health departments. A lot of you are just out there doing whatever you want to do,” Heart stated Tuesday.
The tribe will remain at the purple level of the state’s COVID-19 dial, indicating “severe risk,” until Feb. 8.
“If we continue going at this pace with increases in positive cases here in the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, then we might have to start laying off employees because we cannot get our positive cases down to a safe level,” Heart said.
Members have been receiving both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines from Indian Health Service nurses, doctors, dentists and pharmacists.
Vaccinations began on Dec. 16, with the first shots going to essential health care workers. The Southern Colorado Ute Service Unit’s COVID-19 vaccines priority list includes healthcare personnel, long-term healthcare facility residents and staff, people ages 65 and older, frontline essential workers, Head Start teachers and people ages 16 to 59 with high-risk medical conditions.
Vaccines are provided at the Southern Colorado Ute Service Unit and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal building. Clinics take place Tuesdays and Thursdays, and more will be scheduled as more vaccines become available.