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State Of Emergency Declared On Rocky Boy In Response To Coronavirus Concerns

The Chippewa Cree Tribal Council declared a state of emergency on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation Saturday afternoon.

The tribal council made the declaration the same day the Box Elder School Board voted to shutter the district’s schools and the Rocky Boy School Board decided to close the doors to its school for two weeks starting Monday.

And on Friday evening, Rocky Boy Health Center officials announced the facility would immediately implement precautions that will lead to appointment changes and changes in employee visitation protocol.

These actions come on the heels of Friday’s news that four Montanans have tested presumptively positive for coronavirus. The four positive cases are people from Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Broadwater counties.

The patients are recovering at their homes, Gov. Steve Bullock said earlier today. A few hours after that announcement, Bullock’s office said Montana now has two more presumptively positive cases, both in Missoula County, for a total of six.

Rocky Boy officials say a 14-day self-quarantine period is in effect for anyone who recently traveled out of state to any area hit heavily by the coronavirus. The quarantine includes anyone who’s been to a basketball tournament in or out of state, according to a press release issued by the tribe.

The tribal council asked that attendance at its meeting Monday be limited to directors, supervisors, and people with immediate business needs.

The tribe has established an incident command center to help deal with community needs.

Since many Box Elder students receive free and reduced-price lunches, school staff will deliver two meals a day to students at designated delivery points, according to an announcement on the district’s Facebook page.

School staff have been approved for two weeks of emergency leave. On Monday, they will begin planning how to educate students during the closing. The school board press release said 90% of students have internet access, and “we are planning additional educational services to meet 100% of our learners.”

Rocky Boy schools is suspending all out-of-state travel for students, canceling indoor events, suspending in-state travel for staff and students, and will allow monitored outdoor school activities.

At Rocky Boy Health Center, all appointments for the next two weeks will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some appointments may be canceled and rescheduled, the health center release said.

Patients are encouraged to call in before going to the health center, especially those who have a cough, shortness of breath, and/or fever and have traveled out of state in the last 14 days.

Public access to the health center also has been limited. Only entrance A, the one facing Upper Box Elder Road, will be open to the public.

Health center employees will not be allowed to have visitors.

Plain Green Loans, a tribal lending company on Rocky Boy, is mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for all employees who have traveled to any of the counties in which those who have tested positive live.

The novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China. It is a mild to severe respiratory illness that causes fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. It spreads by close contact (within 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The best ways to protect yourself are to wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and keep distance between you and others if coronavirus is spreading through your community.

You also should take steps to protect others. Stay home if you’re sick. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and throw used tissues in the trash.

In addition, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

When it comes to face masks, only those who are sick should wear them to keep the disease from spreading. People who are not sick do not need masks.


Email Paul Dragu at

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