As of Monday, Aug. 16, there were 18 active COVID-19 cases on the Blackfeet Reservation. According to Public Information Officer James McNeely, “We get our numbers from IHS, and it’s for the whole Reservation. They’re the most accurate numbers we have, and they’re posted on the Incident Command Facebook page.”
While it isn’t known if the new cases include the Delta Variant, there are currently people in isolation and in quarantine. According to McNeely, the Blackfeet Tribe is assisting with food and supplies, which may be accessed on the Incident Command Facebook page. The Blackfeet Tribe issued an updated mask mandate in response to the increased case numbers. (See Page A3.)
The following orders were issued by the Blackfeet Incident Command Team:
1. A mandatory mask mandate for the Blackfeet Reservation effective immediately. All businesses and individuals shall be notified.
2. All Blackfeet Tribal Offices shall be closed to the public until further notice. Tribal Employees will report to work on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. Business may be handled via phone, email, fax, or appointment.
The Blackfeet Reservation is not on lockdown. Anyone traveling out of town is encouraged to wear a mask and follow CDC recommendations. These orders are effective immediately and shall remain in effect until further notice and are put in place in the best interest of the Blackfeet Reservation.
McNeely said, in addition to the confirmed cases, there are “over 100 contacts and still counting.”
Responding to wildfires near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, McNeely reports the Tribal Business Council and Incident Command put supplies together to help. Councilman Lauren Monroe Jr., Incident Commander K Webb Galbreath and Fire Information Officer Carter Gallineaux drove the supplies to Northern Cheyenne’s Incident Command, for which they expressed gratitude to the Blackfeet Tribe.
The fires surrounding Blackfeet Country have brought smoke in large amounts to the normally clean and clear air on the Rocky Mountain Front. McNeely notes wearing masks can help folks with these airborne irritants. In addition, he said Tony Sinclair at the Blackfeet Environmental Office posts daily updates on air quality, which are also posted on Facebook.
Finally, McNeely reminds tribal members the Blackfeet Tribe has issued a survey for folks to indicate what sorts of projects they would like to see the Tribe embark upon with its various pandemic sources of funding. The survey can be found on the Blackfeet Nation/Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Facebook page.