The principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) announced Friday that the federally recognized Indian tribe in western North Carolina will not abide by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s most recent COVID-19 lockdown orders.
Principal Chief Richard Sneed of EBCI said in a statement posted to Facebook:
After considerable research and consideration the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will not be adopting the measures included in the newest Executive Order issued by Governor Roy Cooper. As Principal Chief of the EBCI I have worked with EBCI public health officials to enact social distancing measures that protect our tribal citizens and guests while balancing the financial position of our community. I will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in our community and will update our community if further measures are warranted.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, which is “a sovereign nation located within the borders of the United States and is governed in a similar way,” according to its website, pushed back against Cooper, who rolled out a new executive order regarding COVID-19 on Friday, which includes a modified stay-at-home order and a nighttime curfew requiring North Carolinians to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
“It means just what it says: people are to stay at home between those hours,” Cooper said, according to WCNC. “The modified Stay at Home Order is also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day — wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others, and washing our hands.”
“Having more than 7,500 cases is staggering and alarming,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, who is secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). “We are now seeing the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings. Do not wait until it is you or your loved one alone in the hospital or you are facing the loss of a loved one to wear a mask, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands often. Act now. Please ask yourself what you can do to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”
“You should avoid non-essential activities and avoid people you don’t live with,” Dr. Cohen said on Tuesday. “I am very worried… Do not wait until it is you or your loved one sick before you wear a mask.”
WCNC further reported:
Businesses, including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, most retail stores and more will be required to close at 10 p.m. Alcohol sales are required to stop at at 9 p.m. The sale of alcohol cannot resume until 7 a.m.
Some exclusions apply, such as in the construction and manufacturing industries.
More than 80% of counties in North Carolina are in the orange or red zone, according to its coronavirus spread map. Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, was among those counties seeing substantial or critical community spread of the coronavirus.