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Blackfeet reservation responds to coronavirus concerns; curfew implemented

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:09:52-04

Blackfeet Tribal officials are working to keep members calm as they take pandemic precautions in the midst of concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Officials declared a reservation-wide state of emergency on Monday. Schools, Tribal offices, and businesses are closed and an incident command post has been established. The proclamation allows the tribe to apply for state and federal aid to care for residents' needs. The order also implemented a mandatory curfew for all residents between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The curfew does not apply to people who are working during those hours.

Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services said in a Facebook post: "We will be enforcing the curfew set forth by BTBC and anyone that's caught out that doesn't need to be out will be dealt with accordingly. Officers will be stopping every vehicle and person out."

“We did implement the curfew which seems to be working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m,.” said Public Information Officer James McNeely. “Just trying to keep people off the street and out of areas-just trying to keep everybody calm.”

McNeely says this is a learning process for everyone: “This is one of the first times ever we’re using the 'virus appendix' of that emergency plan right now,” he said. “So, just like everybody else, this is a first time for us, we’re going down in uncharted waters."

McNeely says there are currently no COVID-19 cases on the Blackfeet Reservation; all samples are sent to a lab in Helena. “We’re getting those back within 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

He adds with their proximity to the U.S.-Canada border, they are closely monitoring situations in both the U.S. and Canada and abiding by CDC guidelines daily.

“There’s cases we have seen this (Thursday) morning in the Lethbridge area,” he said. “So we’re sitting in between cases we still don’t have any here, thank goodness.”

Blackfeet tribal offices and programs will be closed until March 30th to allow for extensive cleaning of the facilities.

In addition, the emergency declaration states that all bars on the reservation will be closed during this time.

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