Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. is urging citizens to follow federal recommendations and avoid gathering for Thanksgiving amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
"Our ICU beds at Hastings Hospital are staying full as we see and help more of our citizens hospitalized by this virus," Hoskin said. "The best thing we can do is stay in this holiday, and if you're around other people, wearing a mask is critical."
Hoskin said the tribe's public health team is seeing positive test rates three times higher than in recent weeks.
"This holiday, we should also think of our elders and how they may be affected by large gatherings. Data tells us that those ages 65 and older, and with health conditions, have a harder time fighting this virus off, and may have a greater chance for hospitalization," Hoskin said. "We can keep them safe by keeping them in and limiting contact."
"Now, I understand it's hard to forego the usual holiday dinners and gatherings, but I ask you to celebrate your family, your community and Thanksgiving differently this year," Hoskin said. "Taking these measures will help ensure all families across the Cherokee Nation can celebrate in large gatherings with their loved ones in the years to come."
Chickasaw Nation Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. John Krueger is also recommending following federal guidance.
"Virtual Thanksgiving: This is the year for it," Krueger said.
"Thanksgiving, in my opinion, should be spent really only with the people you are in daily contact with in your household," Krueger said. "I know that may sound extreme, you might hear other versions of that out there, but that is the safest thing."
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt have both endorsed the CDC and White House recommendations to avoid Thanksgiving travel and large gatherings. Gov. Kevin Stitt said last week he plans to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving including members outside his immediate household.