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HHS warns of spike in Covid-19 cases

Officials report a spike in Covid-19 cases this summer. (Graphic via Facebook)

The Seminole Tribe’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has recently issued warnings about a spike in the number of Covid-19 infections on and off the reservations. HHS began to send informational email alerts to the tribal community in August.

HHS included a list of recommended precautions that people can take, including receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, avoiding group gatherings, maintaining social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene. HHS said the use of masks also “prevents isolation.” HHS offers free at home Covid-19 tests are available for tribal members at respective health clinics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an Aug. 23 risk assessment that existing Covid-19 tests and medications appeared to be effective with a new highly mutated variant called BA.2.86, nicknamed “Pirola.”

The CDC is also forecasting an acceleration in new Covid-19 hospitalizations in September, which replaced a previous projection that admissions would “remain stable or have an uncertain trend.”

The CDC said it was too early to know whether BA.2.86 would drive an additional surge in hospitalizations. It said updated vaccines that are scheduled to be rolled out in September are expected to “be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization” from BA.2.86.  But the strain’s large number of mutations could also pose new challenges for immunity from prior infections and vaccinations, it warned.

Flu prevention:

Meanwhile, HHS said flu season is underway, and vaccines are available for tribal members who are six months and older.

“Flu season leads to other immune diseases,” HHS said in an August informational email to the tribal community. “This is peak season for flu and Covid-19.”

The HHS recommendations are to receive a flu vaccine, cover a cough or sneeze, wash hands, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, and to stay home if sick.


HHS contractors have been performing aerial and ground treatments to prevent mosquito bites in recent weeks. It has warned the tribal community about mosquito bites in informational emails to the tribal community.

“Mosquitos can transmit painful, disabling, and potentially deadly disease such as West Nile virus, dengue fever and malaria,” HHS said.

It said effective and long lasting repellents contain one of the following Environmental Protection Agency-registered ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Repellant is being distributed at the end of scheduled clinic appointments, HHS said. For more information, call the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458. More from the CDC is at