Cherokee Nation Using Devices To Test Air, Surfaces For Presence of COVID-19

Friday, August 7th 2020, 6:42 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. -

The Cherokee Nation told News On 6 new technology is helping tribal leaders combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribal government in the country with more than 385,000 citizens and 9,000 employees.

The tribal nation has had 934 confirmed cases as of Aug. 7.

Some of the tribe’s 150 work sites, such as the tribal complex in Tahlequah, gets hundreds of visitors a day.

Now, there are machines that can test the air and surfaces for the presence of the Coronavirus at all its locations.

The Cherokee Nation bought 10 devices at $8,800 each with federal money from the CARES Act, according to tribal leaders.

Environmental specialist Nick Clark said the machines are easy to move around to test the air and surfaces as needed.

"The air is collective, so we do three 10-minute samples of the same area, and on the swabs, we do each surface separately," explained Clark.

Clark said the surface and air samples get picked up daily by a lab based in Sallisaw, and results are back within two days. The samples cost $80 per test.

The tribe said about 3 percent of samples have come back positive.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., said the information leads to contact tracing and sanitizing of any needed areas.

"This test has allowed us to see what's happening in that workspace, and it also allows us to do that same test elsewhere as we're cleaning sort of on a randomized basis to make sure that the levels are where they should be," said Hoskin, Jr.

Tribal members like Autumn Herrod of Glenpool, who has young children, said they are glad to know there are more safety measures.

"I felt really comfortable,” said Herrod. “Especially with how many people are having to come in right now, it's nice to know that they're taking extra steps to see that we're safe."

The Cherokee Nation plans to do more environmental testing in the coming months as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is expected to rise.