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The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma on Monday announced the cancellation of the 2020 Labor Day Festival due to COVID-19 concerns.

According to the tribe, the cancellation occurred “out of an abundance of caution and in awareness of public health.”

The announcement comes two weeks after the tribe said it was going to move forward with the festival without carnival rides and concerts with more focus on cultural events and activities.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton's State of the Nation address will be delivered virtually and will be available on the tribe's social media and website Sept. 7.

As of Monday, the 10-and-a-half counties of the Choctaw Nation had 314 active cases of COVID-19 with a total of 786 cumulative positive cases, 461 recoveries, and 11 deaths, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health.

The tribe on June 12 stopped its daily reporting of COVID-19 numbers on social media that reflected COVID-19 numbers and testing within the Choctaw Nation. At the time of the last advisory, the tribe reported 384 cumulative positive cases and nine deaths in the tribal area.

The report ended the same day the tribe entered Phase Three of reopening. "During this recovery phase, all CNO operations will be reopened. It is possible that additional processes implemented throughout pandemic may be adopted as more permanent processes just as temporary guidelines established through Phase one recovery and Phase two recovery could be extended or rescinded," the Choctaw Nation stated.

The phased approach adopted by the tribe is guided by two key health indicators — hospital bed utilization and intensive care unit bed utilization by COVID-19 patients as a percentage of total bed capacity for Oklahoma and key markets in Texas and Arkansas.

If the indicators show a threat to the healthcare system of the tribe, Oklahoma, or the key markets in Texas and Arkansas, the tribe will halt or slow down the phased progression, according to CNO.

Eligible tribal members nationwide who were affected by COVID-19 can begin applying for relief July 6 through the Choctaw Nation.

Full details on eligibility and available programs can be found at www.choctawnation.com/covidrelief.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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