In a special meeting today, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council extended the reservation’s stay-at-home order until Oct. 25 as tribal officials continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The original stay-at-home order, issued Sept. 28, was set to expire at 11:59 tonight.
Chairman Tim Davis said in an Oct. 13 press release that the decision came after consulting with medical professionals at Blackfeet Community Hospital and tribal clinics, along with a recommendation from the Blackfeet Covid-19 Incident Command, in order to “help alleviate the spread of the COVID-19 breakout that has hit the Blackfeet Reservation.”
The reservation has been consistently hovering well over 300 active cases, although as of Oct. 13, that figure had dropped to 295 active cases, along with 23 hospitalizations. There have been five deaths altogether, along with two additional tribal members who have died from COVID-19 in other states, according to Blackfeet Tribe Interim Public Information Officer James McNeely.
“We are still very much not out of the woods yet,” McNeely said, adding: “It wasn’t a matter of if but when it came to the Blackfeet Nation. It just came seven months later.”
The order extension continues the original mandates, which state that residents are required to stay home unless engaged in essential activities, such as obtaining medical services; obtaining food or medicine; engaging in spiritual, mental, physical and emotional well-being; and outdoor activities with “members from within the same household or established cohorts as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.”
“Residents are encouraged to engage in walks, hiking, fishing, etc.,” the order continues. “Such activity should not amount to large groups or extended family groups where risk of infection increases.”
The order lists illegal activities, including house parties, loitering and soliciting, for which offenders can be fined a minimum of $500 per occurrence. Employment travel to and from the reservation is exempt from the order with a tag issued by the Blackfeet Revenue Department.
Indoor gatherings are limited to “household members or approved cohorts and businesses under the current business regulation order,” and people are required maintain a distance of at least six feet from each other while wearing a mask, “with the exception of those persons who are members of the same household.” Curfew is still set from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Violations of those mandates can result in $500 fines. People who don’t abide by public-health orders to isolate or quarantine could also be subject to criminal action, including jail and a $5,000 fine per occurrence, the order states.
The Oct. 13 press release states that protocols for funerals during the stay-at-home order have been approved by the council in order to help families, including personal protective equipment for families and graveside services with gatherings of 25 people or fewer.
“Our hope is to assist in the slowing down of this current outbreak while taking measures to safely assist our people,” Council Secretary Lauren Monroe, Jr. said. “The well-being of the Blackfeet People is our main priority and we will get through this together.”
For more information and updates, visit the Blackfeet Covid-19 Incident Command’s Facebook page.
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