Eight community members have tested positive for COVID-19 in Akwesasne this week, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne announced Thursday.
To date, 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Mohawk community, which straddles the Ontario, Quebec and New York State borders. There’s a total of eight active cases.
The new cases, which are being investigated by New York’s Franklin County Public Health Department in conjunction with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, stem from a gathering and boat ride on July 10.
An asymptomatic non-resident transmitted the virus to a young community member, who subsequently passed the virus onto older family members, officials say.
One of the family members, whose identity was protected, published a self-report on the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Facebook page this week.
“They are having a hard time, mentally and emotionally, since testing positive. The added speculation and rumours about my family, however, are making it unnecessarily harder,” the individual wrote.
“We are very fortunate to be healthy at this time and are thankful for the support of our leadership and health officials. All I am asking for at this time is for some compassion for the difficult process anyone must endure after contracting the virus.”
Travel ban in effect
The Mohawk Council and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe said in a joint statement they are reminding community members to remain vigilant, exercise physical distancing and wear a mask in social situations.
“In the last three to four months, people in Akwesasne have worked hard to keep this COVID virus at bay,” said Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe clinical director Dr. Benson Kelly, in a video message to the community this week.
“I know we like to socialize, see family members, especially elders. This is very dangerous. If you have family or friends coming from outside of the area who are planning on visiting, this might be a good time to postpone it to a later date.”
Both governments currently have a travel ban in effect for the territory’s unique geographical challenges. Community members must also adhere to a travel ban that prohibits a 100-mile travel radius in the United States or 50 miles in Canada.
Visitors from outside the radius are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.