The Nez Perce Tribe announced its belief Saturday that there is community spread of the coronavirus on its North Central Idaho reservation.

Public health officials define community spread as an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. Tribal Spokeswoman Kayeloni Scott said that as of Friday, the Nimiipuu Health clinic had tested 137 people for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Of those tests, 17 have returned positive for people between the ages of 1 and 80, and there have been no additional positive tests since May 11.

“The medical staff started testing all patients, including asymptomatic patients, in an effort to gain perspective of the virus’ reach on the Nez Perce Reservation,” Scott wrote in a news release. “There have been multiple asymptomatic individuals who tested positive.”

Based on more recent tests, it appears there is now community spread of the virus on the reservation because of one individual who tested positive without having any known contact with another person who tested positive for COVID-19, Scott said.

Nimiipuu Health Medical Director Dr. Kim Hartwig said the reservation is striving to manage the situation as well as it can.

“We want to test as many people as we can, provided testing kits and supplies remain available,” Hartwig said in the news release. “These tests indicate the extent of the virus’ presence on the reservation.”

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