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COVID-19 Epidemiology in Oklahoma Indian Country

Our session will discuss the successes and challenges of public health outreach among Tribal communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will share our experiences and learn from participants’ as we review obstacles to obtaining relevant health data to address emerging health crises, discuss effective ways to address misinformation circulating in Tribal communities and the resistance to public health work that misinformation exacerbates, and describe how the CAT have utilized EMS and CHR staff to test, vaccinate, communicate, and collect data within our communities.

Learning Objectives

After this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify barriers to obtaining timely data needed for informed responses during emerging health crises;
  2. Understand various sources and perspectives of misinformation and its effects on public health; and,
  3. Consider options to tailor engagement with Tribal communities with existing resources and people.

Intended Audience

Our intended audience includes health and public health professionals who work among American Indian populations.


Dr. Derrell Cox serves as epidemiologist for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes (CAT). He holds a PhD in Human Health and Biology and an MA in Anthropology. His research has focused on health and infectious diseases among underserved populations for 20 years. He has collaborated with the CAT for nearly 10 years and has been coordinating efforts of the CAT COVID-19 Task Force, providing review of public health science and evidence-based policy recommendations to CAT Executive Directors, especially Departments of Health and Administration, and the CAT Legislature, Governor and Lt. Governor. Dr. Cox is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Integrated Research Institute, comprised of a team of applied research scientists studying, evaluating, and implementing ways to improve health and wellbeing among underserved minorities.

Ms. Charlene Wassana is Executive Director of the Department of Health for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Ms. Wassana possesses a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Ms. Wassana has multiple certifications and has worked in the nursing field for approximately 22 years, including in hospital (med/surgery, Emergency Department) and clinical settings as well as in the field of Home Health. She currently serves as the board representative for the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board as well as a board member of Action Associates, a domestic violence service providing help for people dealing with domestic abuse.


August 24, 2021 @ 10:00 am
August 25, 2021 @ 11:00 am
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