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Tribes Suspend Operations Amid COVID-19 Fears

According to Montana health officials, another 90 COVID-19 cases in the state have been confirmed, according to test results reported from Saturday through Monday. The weekend bumped the state’s total number of known cases over 900. Twenty- three new cases were reported on Saturday, 11 on Sunday and a one-day record of 56 Monday. Nearly 300 people in the state are known to be currently infected and 13 are hospitalized.

As of Monday, June 29, the case count for Roosevelt County is seven cases reported with all seven cases recovered. It has come to the attention of Roosevelt County Health Department that COVID-19 Case #8 reported on June 25 has two counties of residence in Montana. On June 29, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services made the determination to report the case out of Carbon County and not out of Roosevelt County.

In response to mounting positive cases, a notice was sent out to all Fort Peck Tribal Employees June 24 directing that tribal operations will be shut down for 10 days due to COVID-19. The Fort Peck Tribes are reverting to Phase 2 and the reservation-wide curfew has reverted to a start time of 12:30 a.m.

The Tribes have also pulled any financial support for the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede and have forbidden tribal departments to participate in the weekend’s activities, including law enforcement. According to TEB member Kaci Wallette, the Medicine Bear Complex will be getting fumigated, disinfected and sanitized. Sanitizing efforts are expected to take approximately 20-30 hours to complete. All employees are excused from work through 10 a.m. on July 6. TEB along with Central Finance will return on Thursday, July 2 at 10 a.m. Additionally, the deadline for COVID relief assistance applications has been removed. According to Wallette, the Tribes will still be accepting and processing all assistance applications after June 30.

Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital confirmed June 29 that one of the three positive Valley County COVID-19 cases is a hospital employee. The employee has not worked at the FMDH facility since they were exposed.

Governor Steve Bullock announced an updated directive June 25 that permits safe visitation in nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are able to follow infection control protocols per guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nursing care and assisted living facilities for older adults in Montana may allow visitors after giving notice to residents and family members. Visitation should be conducted in accordance with the strict screening, physical distancing, sanitation, hygiene, testing, and other infection control protocols set forth in the CMS and CDC guidance applicable to nursing homes. Before permitting visitation, facilities should review the applicable CDC and CMS guidance and determine that they are capable of following them. CMS guidance can be found at qso-20-30-nh.pdf. Bullock’s April 22 Phase 1 reopening directive continued the suspension of visitation for all visitors and non-essential healthcare providers, except as for certain compassionate care situations.

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