Shooting Star Casino, White Earth Nation open drive-thru coronavirus test site | INFORUM

Tuesday 14th April 2020

MAHNOMEN, Minn. -- The Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen has opened a drive-thru rapid testing site to help residents on the White Earth Reservation determine if they have the coronavirus.

Reservation leadership and the casino announced Monday, April 13, that the drive-thru testing site would be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for White Earth residents who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms for at least four days. Those who wish to be tested must call ahead to register, the release said.

"The testing site is not open for drive-ups," Ed Snetsinger, White Earth Emergency Management Team incident commander, said in a statement. "Patients must call the triage line to register for screening. If you do have symptoms, the first step is to call the triage line."

The site opened April 8, a spokeswoman said. It's unclear how many tests have been conducted.

The White Earth Reservation covers Mahnomen County, most of north Becker and southwest Clearwater counties, but it's unclear how many cases the nation has reported. Mahnomen County had one case as of Tuesday, Becker reported two and Clearwater had three, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Health Department doesn't track cases by reservation. Of the 1,695 positive cases in Minnesota, about 1% were in Native Americans.

Native Americans make up about 1.1% of Minnesota's population, according to the U.S. Census.

The state Legislature approved a $330 million emergency response bill to help fight the coronavirus, including $1 million for each of the 11 tribal governments in Minnesota.

The bill, which was signed by Gov. Tim Walz, did not dictate how tribes must use the funds. Money that is not used by a tribal government can go to another tribe.

White Earth hopes to "get ahead of the mitigation efforts from the state of Minnesota," Snetsinger said. The drive-thru site will offer a safe and efficient way to test nation members, White Earth Tribal Chairman Michael Fairbanks said in a statement.

"We are doing everything in our power to keep our membership safe, and together, we will get our community through this crisis," he said.

Fairbanks and Snetsinger did not respond to requests for comment by The Forum.

The Shooting Star Casino closed March 18 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has served as a base of operations for White Earth's emergency team, according to the release.

"Together with White Earth tribal leadership and the White Earth Nation Emergency Management Team, we will continue to carefully monitor the situation and find ways to continue serving our community," Shooting Star general manager Scott Stevens said in a statement. "We will do what it takes to fight the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and wellness of White Earth Nation."

To register for the testing site, call 218-936-2738 between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each patient will be given a code and instructions on where to go for testing if medical professionals determine a test is necessary, the release said.

A person who tests positive will be asked to self-quarantine for seven days and be symptom-free for three days before leaving quarantine, the release said.

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