Stay-at-home order extended again on the Blackfeet Reservation

Posted at 1:31 PM, Oct 23, 2020

GREAT FALLS — The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council on Friday extended its "stay at home" order due to COVID-19.

The agency announced that the Incident Command Team has extended the current order until Sunday, November 8, at 11:59 p.m.

The decision was based on three metrics and were modified from, a resource center developed by national infectious disease experts. While the site has several metrics on which to base phasing, the Blackfeet Pandemic Operations Planning Team chose the three that are most relevant to the current situation on Blackfeet Nation and which can be readily used. These metrics have been adapted to the population of Blackfeet Nation so they are relevant locally.

James McNeely, public information officer for the Blackfeet Nation, told MTN News when the order was first issued that the goal of the shutdown is to reduce the number of non-essential gatherings, which have contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases over the past several weeks.

McNeely said on Friday that the rate of new cases has declined, but they’re still not where the Reservation wants them to be: "Hopefully, we hit a good plateau, where it's safe to have some phased re-openings, I guess, but I don't foresee that in the near future. I see that maybe after the new year.”

As of Thursday evening (October 22) the following statistics are for the Blackfeet Reservation:

  • 202 active cases (23 new today)
  • 25 hospitalizations
  • 898 cases since March 15
  • 696 recovered since March 15
  • 15 deaths due to COVID-19 (12 counted on reservation, 1 counted in county, 2 counted out of state, all were tribal/community members)

Blackfeet officials urge everyone to follow CDC guidelines and Blackfeet Tribe Ordinance 121. For more information, call 406-338-3513.

Here is the text of the original order from the Blackfeet website:

1. BLACKFEET TRIBAL OFFICES CLOSURE. The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council hereby closes all tribal programs as directed under the attached List and memos issued by the Blackfeet Personnel Department. (Amended to remain closed until October 25, 2020 per Resolution 08-2021 Tribal Offices Only)

2. STAY AT HOME ORDER FOR RESIDENTS OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION. All persons are ordered to Stay Home. Persons found to be engaged in the following illegal activities shall be fined a minimum of $500.00 per occurrence: House Parties, Loitering, Soliciting, or engaged in unapproved gatherings. Employment travel to and from the Reservation is exempt from this order for purposes of employment. The Blackfeet Revenue Department shall issue tags for such travel.

3. APPROVED ACTIVITIES. All residents on the Blackfeet Reservation are required to Stay at Home unless engaged in essential activities as follows:—obtain medical services;—obtain food or medicine;—to engage in spiritual, mental, physical and emotional well-being;—only residents of the Blackfeet Reservation are permitted to engage in outdoor activities with members from within the same household or established cohorts as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Cohort” is defined as: smaller groups formed out of a larger organization of persons for the purpose of engaging in legal activity for the same period of time, with the goal of reducing risk of infection from the Coronavirus; and, in the event one cohort is exposed to the virus, remainder cohort groups can continue to participate in the activity; and—Residents are encouraged to engage in walks, hiking, fishing, etc. Such activity should not amount to large groups or extended family groups where risk of infection increases.

4. SOCIAL DISTANCING ORDER. All persons are mandated to distance at six (6) feet from each other while wearing a mask, with the exception of those persons who are members of the same household. “Household” is defined as those members of a household who were living in the same dwelling unit during the past fourteen (14) days. Persons knowingly in violation of this Order shall be fined $500.00 per occurrence.

5. PROHIBITION ON INDOOR GATHERINGS. Indoor gatherings shall be limited to household members or approved cohorts and businesses under the current business regulation order. Spiritual gatherings engaged in closed contact between persons shall be limited to virtual or remote attendance. Persons knowingly in violation of this Order shall result in a $500 fine per occurrence.

6. MASKS REQUIRED IN ALL AREAS OF THE BLACKFEET RESERVATION. All persons on the Blackfeet Reservation are required to wear masks at all times while in public (where social distancing cannot be maintained), with the exception for children under two (2) years of age. Masks are available through the Blackfeet Tribal Office Main Lobby. Persons not wearing a mask after warning shall be fined $500.00.

7. CURFEW AMENDMENT FROM 9 PM to 6 AM. Curfew shall be from 9 PM to 6 AM each day. Violations of Curfew shall result in a minimum of $500.00 Fine per occurrence.

8. COURT ENFORCEMENT FOR ISOLATION/QUARANTINE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS. Amendment #3 to Ordinance #121 requires enforcement of all public health isolation/quarantine orders by the Blackfeet Tribal Court. Persons not following the public health orders will be subject to further legal action requiring violators to be legally detained and face further criminal action not to exceed 3 years in jail and/or $5,000.00 fine per occurrence.

9. WEEKLY BRIEFING TO THE PUBLIC. The Blackfeet Incident Command shall issue a daily briefing to the public on current COVID-19 issues.