By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Masks seem to be at the center of many heated debates in today’s society. Conspiracy or not, the Tulalip Tribes passed a ‘no mask, no service’ resolution at the beginning of July, requiring individuals to wear masks in all public spaces within the Tulalip reservation, including tribal establishments, gaming and government, as well as at local businesses. The decision was made in response to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases on the reservation after a long period with zero reported cases after the initial outbreak, as the Tribe acted swiftly to prevent the virus from spreading any further.
“I think right now with COVID-19 being as serious as it is, social distancing and the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) are important,” expressed Marysville UniFirst Branch Manager, Justin England. “I think if everyone has enough PPE then they can stay safe and keep their families safe.”
UniFirst is a nationwide corporation that specializes in providing uniforms and safety gear for businesses at 260 locations. With cases spiking throughout the entire country, UniFirst began a corporate initiative to assist business owners during the global pandemic.
“We’re taking part in a company-wide initiative, partnering with businesses in our local communities across the country,” explained Justin. “UniFirst is donating 10,000 masks in a lot of communities. I was approached by someone at our corporate office asking if we’d like to be a part of this with our community and I said I’d love to. When they asked who I’d like to partner with, being in Marysville, my first thought was the Tulalip Tribes. That’s when I reached out, hashed out the details, partnered up and made this happen.”
On the afternoon of July 22, Justin hand-delivered several boxes filled with blue surgical masks to the Tulalip Tribes Office of Emergency Management team at the Tulalip Administration building.
A misunderstanding occurred when UniFirst revealed they would be distributing the masks to the Tribe as a local news team announced that Tulalip was handing out masks to the public. The announcement sent many on a course headed to the Tribe’s admin building. And though explaining the kerfuffle to them, Tulalip’s Emergency Preparedness Manager, Ashlynn Danielson still provided those who made the journey to the rez with one mask each for their troubles. The majority, save for the few handed out that afternoon, will be distributed to business establishments throughout Tulalip and Quil Ceda Village.
“The thought concept behind these masks were to support our local businesses, the smaller mom and pop shops,” Ashlynn stated. “They can reach out and we can provide them with masks to have on-hand. In the event that their patrons come in and either forgot their masks or don’t own a mask, the company can provide them with a free mask and still do business with them.”
“We’re also planning to give the Tulalip police officers masks,” she continued. “As the officers come in contact with civilians who aren’t wearing a mask, they could ask them if they’d like to have a mask and request that they wear one, and also expand on why it’s important to wear masks.”
The Center for Disease Control recently issued a press release urging Americans to wear face masks to slow the spread of the virus throughout the Nation. There are some, however, who feel that governmental entities that mandate its citizens to wear a mask is a violation of their constitutional rights and t refuse to wear one.
The Tulalip Office of Emergency Management will be distributing the masks to local businesses in the near future. To stay updated on all the latest COVID-19 info, please follow Tulalip News on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit the Tulalip Coronavirus Response website.
“We are in unknown territories,” admits Ashlynn. “COVID-19 is not something you plan for; it didn’t exist. Knowing that we have groups coming together and that our tribal membership and community members are listening about wearing masks, recognizing that what we’re telling them is true – you need to mask, it helps protect everyone, you and your loved ones – I would say that this donation really warms my heart.”