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Considerations for Public Health Policy: Reopening Native America

The McCabe CPA & Consulting LLC team is monitoring the COVID-19 situations in Indian Country with persistence and diligence.

Our mission is to provide exceptional services and value to Native American communities in their journey toward self-determination in economic development, bringing expertise in accounting, public policy, business, planning, management, and health care.

Throughout the U.S., states and municipalities are taking steps to reopen their local government offices and economic operations, taking precautions to reduce the spread and infection rate of COVID-19.

As tribes begin to look toward reopening, we want to provide tribal leaders and administrators with important information and insight from our team of professionals and experts to cultivate a better understanding of the issues pertaining to public health.

COVID-19 is new to tribal nations and new data continues to emerge on its’ origin, method of infection, prevention, transmission, re-infection, symptoms, treatment, and outcomes.

It is important to approach reopening communities by developing assessments and health polices for COVID-19 that remain flexible as new data emerges.

We are recommending that tribes adopt a broad health policy response and in some cases, sweeping reform of current systems to produce effective and positive outcomes.

One important factor in reopening schools, work places, traditional activities, churches, etc. is the numbers of COVID-19 on tribal lands and in geographic areas of tribal nations. These numbers guide the reopening policies and procedures development.

We’ve identified a few points of considerations for establishing a re-opening program, they are the following:

  • Develop a return to work protocol considering all work environments on tribal nations – central government offices, tribal council meetings, divisions, departments, tribal nation owned businesses on tribal lands, geographical tribal government sites, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior centers, youth centers.
  • Examine existing return to work models to assist in building your own model.
  • Address COVID-19 prevention, identification of new and existing cases and surveillance strategies including contact tracing, management plan for all work environments and strategies and mitigation strategies.
  • Address the concepts of harm reduction, pooled risk.
  • Review and revise current procedures/policies for health optimization in the workplace as COVID-19 changes with peak infection periods and resolving periods.
  • Prepare to be flexible.
  • Ensure continued PPE resources (masks, face shields, gloves, gowns when appropriate). Plan PPE for all employees including janitors, cleaning staff, etc.
  • Ensure availability of disinfecting agents should the whole or partial workplace require disinfection.
  • Include a comprehensive coordination plan to assure the policies/procedures are easily available, easily distributed and followed in the reopening plan.
  • Utilize tribal nations existing epidemiology office to collect and analyze surveillance data in the workplaces upon reopening – this will guide policy and interventions in real-time.
  • Protocol for proms/graduation/powwows, etc.
  • Develop evaluation plans.
  • Consider a tiered system for reopening the workforce and schools, etc.
  • Develop a comprehensive, coordinated budget to meet the needs.

Reach out to us if you’d like further consultation or support. Thank you for all that you do to keep tribal communities safe and optimistic during these unprecedented times.


Sean McCabe, CPA | Travis Renville, MBA | Melvina McCabe, MD | Joelynn Ashley, MPA, MA |

Juan Massey, Principal | J.Garret Renville, Principal




Return to Work (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html – tribal government offices/departments/divisions, small businesses on tribal lands, casinos, etc).


Return to School and Daycare (preschool, elementary, middle, high school, tribal colleges, university branches) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-fro-schools.htm.


Register for Rainmaker Media Group interview with Dr. Melvina McCabe, MD (Diné), Travis Renville, MBA (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) and Joelynn Ashley, MPA, MA to discuss how tribal communities can work in concert with tribal administration and leadership to identify and implement best paths forward in reopening their communities on Monday, June 1 at 10 AM (MT). https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/1115906197294/WN_16UBTXcMQ1myvRObYSjWyA


Sean McCabe, CPA

Sean has enjoyed over a decade of working with and for governments and not-for-profit organizations in management, regulatory and consulting roles. He has been fortunate enough to assist governments in achieving their financial and operational goals. Sean also served as a significant consultant to the production of the Native American Finance Officers Association’s GASB 34 implementation guide. Sean is a recognized speaker on the National Indian Gaming Commission’s speaker series providing training and advice on relevant governmental audits and operational issues. Additionally, Sean was recently selected to serve on the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants Minority Initiative Committee.

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