Crow tribal member tests positive for coronavirus

Posted at 2:10 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 16:13:31-04

A Crow tribal member has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The man in his 50s, who resides in Yellowstone County, but is a member of the tribe, tested positive this week, the Big Horn County Health Department announced Wednesday.

Public Health Nurse Esther Wynne was informed by Yellowstone County Public Health that their office is doing an aggressive and diligent case investigation, which includes communicating with people who were in contact with the patient in the confirmed case.

Close contacts of this patient have been instructed to self-quarantine, the Big Horn County News reports.

The positive test comes five days after Crow Tribal Chairman Alvin Not Afraid Jr. issued an executive order mandating all tribal members to stay home in order to control the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a press release issued by the tribe Friday.

The order, which mirrors similar stay at home orders from the state and the county, went into effect on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. and stays in effect until April 10.

It also closed the reservation to all non-local recreation. Checkpoints were set up on Sunday advising nonlocal residents about the order, leading many to turned around.

“Those people voluntarily turned around,” said Jack Old Horn with the Crow Incident Command.

Several social media posts from Crow Reservation residents both tribal members and non-tribal members reported out of state campers along the Big Horn River.

The Big Horn Mountains and Pryor Mountains are also closed per the order. Safety checkpoints were also set up near access points near the mountains.

The press release stated all nonessential business and operations within the exterior boundaries of the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana are to remain closed and all social activities are to stop.

Businesses deemed essential are required to comply with six-foot radius social distance guidelines when possible, have sanitizing products available, and designated hours of operation specifically for vulnerable populations.

Tribal members are prohibited from participating in public and private gatherings of any size occurring outside a household or place of residence, the order mandates.

Exceptions to the order include, participating in tasks essential to the health and safety of tribal members or to the health and safety of their family or household members; to obtain supplies like groceries or household items; to perform outdoor activities that maintain the recommended social distance, like walking, running or biking; to report to work if a job is deemed essential; and to care for or transport a family member, friend or pet in another household.

Old Horn said there are no estimates on the number of tribal members who are living with preexisting conditions or are immunecompromised.

“We don’t have those numbers,” he said, “but there have been a lot of people who requested to be tested but if they didn’t have symptoms they were not tested.”

Old Horn said he was unsure how many people were temporarily out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Unified Command responding to the crisis on the reservation is comprised of the Indian Health Service, Big Horn County Public Helath Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Affairs Justice Services, the Crow Tribe Executive Branch and Crow Incident Command.

The order builds on the state of emergency declaration issued by Not Afraid on March 15.

For more information, call Crow Incident Response Command Center at 406-679-5314.