Incident Commander Robert DesRosier was on the scene at Blackfeet Community Hospital on May 6 as the Montana National Guard acknowledged the frontline hospital workers with a flyover.

The World Health Organization (WHO) extended COVID-19 pandemic as the effects of this virus still warrants a public health emergency of international concern.

This is our reality. The Blackfeet Tribe wants everyone to be as safe as possible. The safety and wellbeing of our elders, children, families and communities is paramount.

Furthermore, the safety of our nurses, healthcare workers and every frontline worker must be valued as they work every day caring for us.

The Blackfeet Tribe will support loosening guidelines with these three important goals:

• A consistent drop in cases over a two-week time period coupled with reliable and adequate community testing.

• Reliable access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) without the need for rationing.

• The ability for ample contact tracing. (Expand testing needs to address tracing protocols, social contagion tracking and epidemiology).

Relaxing stay-in-place restrictions and/or resuming large public gatherings runs the risk of undoing the work we have all done together over the last two months.

The Blackfeet Community should be proud of our collective work as we see that physical distancing efforts and stay at home orders have slowed the rate of COVID-19 infections in Montana.

Tribal economic health will follow as our population’s health improves, making it critical we all take part in doing what we can to protect each other.

Reopening without continuing the necessary precautions could be deadly to ourselves and our neighbors.

We need to understand the possibility that this pandemic will not be over soon and that people need to be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of disease, highlighting this is why it is so important for all of us to do our part.

To ignore science and data will compromise your health and the health of others, delaying our ability to get back to a safe living environment.

With restrictions slowly easing, We must remain vigilant. The Blackfeet Tribe commends all businesses that are requiring masks to protect themselves and their customers until we can learn more from this virus and can assure safety for our community.

Keep staying healthy and continue with these safety measures:

• Stay home as much as possible, especially those with underlying chronic health conditions.

• Anytime you are going to be around other people that you are not typically around, be respectful of others' health and please wear a mask

• Stay 6 ft. or more apart

• Keep your children at home

• Wash your hands frequently and don't touch your face.

Keep our Blackfeet Community safe and COVID 19 free.

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