On Monday evening, Sept. 28, Blackfeet Chairman Tim Davis noted Glacier County having posted 133 cases of COVID-19 over the week-end.
“It’s very alarming,” he said, with workers at the Blackfeet Care Center, Tribal Security and EMS having tested positive. As a result, he said, the Tribe decided to go to a 14-day shutdown to keep the virus from spreading further.
“Our staff is overworked and they’re testing positive, so it’s a real pandemic and folks need to wear masks and follow social distancing. It’s not like the flu,” Davis said.
Tribal programs have been reduced to 14 deemed essential with others on-call as needed. In addition, one person has been hired to deal with enforcement of the rules.
Curfew has gone from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and businesses may open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Alcohol restrictions remain unchanged, being allowed until 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Prohibitions against loitering and gatherings of folks not in a recognized cohort or in the same family are being enforced, and churches are ordered to return to online services for the 14 days.
Travel is being allowed for essential functions and for work, as long as protocols are followed.
As the Tribal Stipends are being mailed out, the check cashing service will continue to be available at Glacier Peaks Casino from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“It’s starting to hit us again,” Davis said. “We’ve got several months to go. We started out with everyone staying in; then we got complacent in June and July - you can’t keep people inside forever - and opened back up. Then we had to shut back down three weeks into July.”
While earlier testing proved to be inefficient with a lengthy turnaround time, Davis said the Tribe now has around 1,000 tests that take two days for results while IHS has rapid tests for its workers.
“People need to keep persevering with scientifically shown methods of reducing the spread of this virus,” Davis said, “masks, social distancing and following the rules.”