Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council Takes Action in Response to COVID-19; Authorizes Establishment of the Incident Command System

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On March 19, 2020 The Pascua Yaqui Tribal Council declared a tribal emergency concerning the COVID-19 virus and through Resolution No. C03-66-20, activated the Incident Command System (ICS) to ensure that all information is funneled through a central source and that is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

The Resolution provides emergency authority to the Chairman for all issues regarding COVID-19 and authorizes the Chairman to sign all documents and take any necessary and proper action to carry out the intent of this Resolution.

In June 2020, Andre Matus, former Pascua Yaqui Fire Chief, was named Emergency Management Officer. The Incident Command System is now under the guidance of Reuben Howard, Executive Director of the Pascua Yaqui Health Department, and includes Fire Chief Carlos Flores, Police Chief Michael Valenzuela and representatives from police, fire, health, IT, communications, among others, who have been authorized by Tribal Council to communicate directly to the community information regarding COVID-19.

Executive Order # 20-01 outlines specific and immediate actions to be taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order addresses such things as meetings and gatherings, trainings and the implementation of social distancing protocols and work-from-home policies. This is in addition to the travel restrictions and preventative and proactive measures for the health and well-being of the Pascua Yaqui tribal communities.

"The ICS has been diligent in its efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and will continue to do so under the guidance of Mr. Matus, Mr. Howard, Chief Flores and Chief Valenzuela,” said Peter S. Yucupicio, Chairman.

"The Pascua Yaqui Tribal Health Department is in regular communication with state and Pima and Maricopa County Health Departments, El Rio Community Center, Indian Health Service and others for COVID-19 updates, technical assistance and guidance," said Howard.

"It is essential for the health and well-being of our Tribal members, community, employees and staff that we continue to do everything we can to provide testing and minimize exposure in order to flatten the curve of this virus," said Howard.