More than 31 percent of the state’s cases have come from those who identify as American Indian, according to state data as of Thursday afternoon. Ebbert said that can be attributed to the mass testing and contact tracing the tribes have conducted and not an outbreak that is any worse than other spots throughout the state. According to 2019 census estimates, Wyoming’s population is 2.7 percent American Indian/Alaska Native.
As of Thursday afternoon, state officials had reported 667 confirmed and 209 probable cases, with 15 deaths — six among Northern Arapaho tribal citizens.
Aggressive contact tracing has helped to limit community spread of the virus, Ebbert said, adding that the two tribes are seeing fewer people with cases that officials can’t tie to someone else. Despite that, he said he doesn’t believe the outbreak has peaked on the reservation, though it may have plateaued.
“It’s still spreading. People need not relax,” he said, urging tribal citizens to continue to follow public health recommendations, like social distancing and wearing a mask when in public, meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Ebbert said the disproportionate number of deaths among the state’s Indigenous population could likely be attributed to factors — like higher rates of existing health problems and crowded housing situations – that make many Indigenous people more vulnerable to death and other complications from the virus.