On the Blackfeet Reservation, the holiday season is in full swing - and so is COVID-19 testing. Last week, the National Guard conducted drive-through COVID-19 tests on anyone who wanted to be tested on the Blackfeet Reservation. COVID-19 testing remains one of the most important ways to combat the virus. By quickly identifying the virus, our public health system is more able to contain and slow its spread. The Blackfeet COVID-19 Incident Command is providing the following information about types of testing, key testing points to understand, and local testing resources.
Testing for COVID-19 is readily available on the Blackfeet Reservation, and all are encouraged to get tested if they have symptoms or have been exposed to somebody with COVID-19. Testing is safe and very important for keeping the Blackfeet Nation communities protected.
Different Types of
Rapid Antigen Tests
•This test is to detect a current COVID-19 infection and is most accurate for people with current symptoms
•This is the fastest test (results in minutes) to know if you are currently infected with COVID-19
Molecular (PCR) Tests
•This test is to detect a current COVID-19 infection and is more accurate than a rapid antigen test
•This takes a bit longer for results than an antigen test (results can take 1-3 days), as it is more complex
•This is a blood test and it detects a previous infection of COVID-19
•This test does not tell you that you are immune to COVID-19
Key take away points
about COVID-19 Testing
•It is very important that people get tested as soon as possible once symptoms appear because the longer they wait, the more people they can infect without knowing their own status. This helps public health officials stay on top of contact tracing and not delay case investigation.
•If a person has symptoms and gets a negative antigen (rapid) test result, they will most likely be asked to also have a PCR test to confirm that their symptoms are not COVID-19.
•A positive antibody test can indicate a past COVID-19 infection, but this does not mean a person is immune or can not be reinfected with or spread COVID-19. Antibodies last for roughly 90 days according to the CDC, and following this period a person can be reinfected with COVID-19. During these 90 days, a person with positive antibodies should watch for any developing symptoms and continue good practices such as hand washing and social distancing to help with community transmission. The exact duration of this period is still under investigation and it is important to know that this duration could be shorter than 90 days and individuals should take standard precautions.
Local Testing Resources/Centers
Indian Health Service Options
•Blackfeet Community Hospital (Browning) 406-338-6304
•PCR and Rapid/Antigen testing available Monday - Friday. Walk-in available in the North Clinic; calling ahead is appreciated.
•Heart Butte Health Clinic (Heart Butte) 406-338-2151
•PCR testing available with doctor’s order and an appointment
•No Antigen/rapid testing is available at this site
Southern Piegan Health Clinic Options
•Southern Piegan COVID Annex (Browning) 338-4624 or 338-4724
(Small building below SPHC School-based Clinic near the Community Garden area. Old Community Development Corporation Building)
•PCR testing available Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
•PCR testing available in outlying communities on varied schedule
•Southern Piegan School-based (Heart Butte) 338-4872
•Antigen/rapid testing available for exposed or symptomatic by appointment.
•PCR testing available by drive through on Mondays from 12-3 p.m. Also available Monday-Friday. Call ahead.
•Southern Piegan Health Clinic - Main Clinic (Browning) 338-7912
•PCR and Antigen/rapid testing only available upon recommendation from providers for established patients.
•Southern Piegan School-based (Browning) 338-3948
•PCR and Antigen/rapid testing available for exposed or symptomatic by appointment.
For more information, visit the Blackfeet COVID-19 Incident Command Facebook page or www.blackfeetnation.com/covid19