Blackfeet Reservation implements mask mandate

Posted at 12:52 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 20:13:11-04

GREAT FALLS — The Blackfeet Reservation on Monday announced that it is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, and has implemented the following measures:

  • A mandatory mask mandate for the Blackfeet Reservation effective immediately. All businesses and individuals shall be notified.
  • All Blackfeet Tribal Offices shall be closed to the public until further notice.
  • Tribal Employees will report to work on Wednesday, August 18. Business may be handled via phone, email, fax, or appointment.

The Blackfeet Incident Command Team says that the order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice, and noted that the reservation is not on lockdown

As of Monday, there are 18 active cases and more than 100 close contacts. There have been 48 deaths due to COVID.

The Blackfeet Tribe has been a leader in vaccination efforts; by March 29, 2021, the tribe reported that 75% of the reservation had been fully vaccinated, and 95% had received at least one dose.

COVID has disproportionally impacted Montana tribes. Native Americans make up about 6.7% of Montana's population; as of July 30th, 16% percent of COVID deaths occurred among Native Americans.

NOTE: The order initially stated that all non-essential travel is suspended until further notice, but the order has since been amended to remove that portion.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Treasure State is continuing to increase, with 473 new cases reported on Monday, bringing the number of active cases in Montana to 2,742.

Cascade County is reporting the most new cases with 103, as well as 498 active cases. Yellowstone County saw the second-largest increase in cases at 59 with 394 active cases. Lewis & Clark County reports 42 new cases and 166 active cases.

The total number of Montanans who have died due to COVID has risen by six to 1,736, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS).

The number of people currently hospitalized due to COVID has risen from 180 on Friday to 191. The cumulative number of hospitalizations in Montana due to the virus is 6,013.

There have been 120,325 cumulative cases of COVID in Montana. The cumulative number of recoveries stands at 115,847. The total number of COVID tests administered in Montana is 1,555,882.

The number of state residents who have been fully immunized against the virus is now 451,558 (about 49% of the state population). The total number of doses administered is 916,964. If you want to get vaccinated, contact your county health department, or click here.

The information above is from the DPHHS website and is current as of Monday, August 16, 2021.

Adam Meier, director of DPHHS, said in a news release recently that COVID-related hospitalization data from the past eight weeks from June 5 to July 30 shows that 89% of Montanans who were hospitalized had not received the COVID vaccine. The data includes 358 hospitalizations of Montanans during this time frame. The hospitalizations included an age range from 1 to 97, with a median age of 64.

“This data illustrates just how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in preventing serious illness when you consider how far we’ve come since the vaccine first became available,” Meier said. “The data is also a reminder of how important it is to get vaccinated. This is now a vaccine-preventable disease, and the last thing we want to see are more cases and hospitalizations. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to prevent serious illness and hospitalization. The fall and winter months are just around the corner. Now is the time to get the vaccine.”