With Phase 2 restrictions in play, Public Information Officer James McNeely said on Monday, Feb. 15, that rules for banks, restaurants and other businesses will be hand delivered over the coming week, informing them how to safely begin to comply with the new regulations.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” McNeely said while noting this week’s numbers are much improved over previous weeks. As of Sunday, Feb. 14, there were 16 active cases, but no new cases for two days in a row, as well as zero hospitalizations. Since last March there have been 1,364 cases with 1,316 having recovered. There have been 46 total deaths due to COVID-19 since March 15, with 39 counted on reservation, two counted in county, two counted outside the county and three counted out of state; all were tribal/community members.

Continued vigilance seems the order of the day, but there is some light ahead.

“With vaccines and testing, we could be at Phase 3 by spring,” McNeely said, defining Phase 3 as the “new normal.”

He went on to stress that “herd immunity” will only be reached when 80-85% of the population has been vaccinated. With the total Reservation population standing around 10,000, he said it would mean more vaccines than are currently being administered. However, when some 3,000 children are excluded, the percentage of the remainder is around 5,500, and with some 3,000 vaccines having already been given, the situation overall is “looking good.”

Of those 3,000 vaccines, some 1,500 have received both doses. There will also be a new round of Reservation-wide testing beginning next week in all likelihood, but the system is being fine tuned before being turned out. Meanwhile, he said, testing is available Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the old THIP Building (behind P&M, Coop’s Corner). Call 338-4624 or 338-4724 for questions.

And while Glacier Peaks Casino remains closed, he said it will reopen in the near future.

Finally, Incident Command met with the Tribal Business Council last week to discuss the cold snap in Blackfeet Country. As of last Wednesday, Feb. 10, he said the Tribe implemented its Emergency Disaster Plan for winter storms, with firewood and food being dispatched to those in need. In addition, Crystal Creek Lodge accepted those who sought shelter during the winter storm.

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