Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cherokee Man is First American Indian to Die from Coronavirus

By Levi Rickert - March 19, 2020 at 02:50PM

Merle Day

Breaking News 

Published March 19, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — Indian Country had its first casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic when a Cherokee tribal citizen passed away on Wednesday from the virus. 

The Cherokee Phoenix, the official publication of the Cherokee Nation, first reported that tribal citizen Merle Day of Berryhill, Okla. died after testing positive for the virus. Mr. Day was 55.

Day, a groundskeeper of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., tested positive on Tuesday, March 17. A member of the Metro Pentecostal Church in Tulsa, Day “was in good health as far as we all knew. He was fighting a cold and then he contracted the coronavirus. He was diagnosed on Tuesday and passed away on Wednesday,” according to a post on the church’s Facebook Page. 

“For months, we watched this virus from afar, and now with the passing of a Cherokee Nation citizen in Tulsa County, we hope people understand this has now hit home and is a very real pandemic that can affect anyone of us,” Cherokee Nation  Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told the Cherokee Phoenix. “We ask that everyone take real safety precautions and on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, our thoughts and prayers are with the Dry family at this time and we are so very sorry for this tragic loss.”

Day is survived by his wife and two children, who are now under quarantine. In addition to being the first Native American casualty of COVID-19, Day was also the first death linked to the virus in the state of Oklahoma. 

Cherokee Nation citizens who have questions about the virus, may call the CN COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-528-0063.

Prior to Day’s death, across Indian Country, there were six confirmed cases of the coronavirus across Indian Country: one at Yankton Nation in South Dakota; two in the Lummi Nation in Washington; and three on the Navajo Nation in Arizona.  

Editor’s Note: Native News Online is dedicated to providing the most accurate and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Indian Country. Please feel free to email us with any news you may have about the virus at

The post Cherokee Man is First American Indian to Die from Coronavirus appeared first on Native News Online.

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