Drive-through COVID testing to be held on the Fort Belknap Reservation
May 14, 2020
Fort Belknap Indian Community, in association with a number of other organizations, will be holding drive-through COVID-19 testing between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday for residents of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Blaine County and the surrounding area.
The drive-through will be set up at the parking lot of Horse Capture Park, 143 Assiniboine Ave. on the Fort Belknap Reservation, as well as the parking lot of St. Paul’s Mission School, 761 Hays Road in Hays, Friday.
Saturday, drive-through testing will only be available at the Horse Capture Park Location, a press release from Fort Belknap Indian Community said.
The release said people who are tested will be given gas cards to cover the cost of driving to the clinics.
The event is an initiative by the Fort Belknap Tribal Health Department and is being run with assistance from the Fort Belknap Indian Health Service Unit, the Montana National Guard and the Blaine County Health Department.
The Fort Belknap Indian Community has recently been allocated 1,000 swabs by the state of Montana which will be used for the drive-through.
Fort Belknap Indian Community Council President Andrew Werk Jr. in the press release thanked Gov. Steve Bullock for his help procuring supplies.
“The tribal council recognizes that Indian communities are among the most vulnerable populations and locations for this COVID-19 pandemic and must take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “We appreciate Gov. Bullock’s support for tribal sovereignty and partnership in protecting tribal communities.
“… Having the capacity to adequately test those who are most at-risk of contracting COVID-19 is essential to keep our community safe,” Werk added. “Expanding testing can help us examine how widespread COVID-19 is in our reservation and county.”
“We appreciate Gov. (Steve) Bullock’s leadership in protecting community health here in Montana and on our Indian reservations by prioritizing testing for the most vulnerable populations while maintaining sufficient supplies to continue testing individuals symptomatic for COVID-19,” Werk said in the release.
Fort Belknap Indian Community Public Relations Officer Camille Stein said this morning a reserve of swabs is ready that can be used to continue the event if they run out.
“What we’re trying to do is not only keep our community safe, but the people in the county around us,” Stein said.
She said this expansion of testing will hopefully give the Tribal Health Department an idea of how to proceed in the coming weeks and months.
“They want to get the greatest comprehensive picture of data that they can get, so we can get a clear picture of how our safety measures and restrictions are working and how we can plan for the future,” she said.
In the release, council member Dominic Messerly, who chairs the Fort Belknap Tribal Health Committee, said the testing will help the local residents continue their work to reduce exposure to coronavirus.
“In these uncertain times we are all facing, now more than ever, we need to come together as a community. We’ve been very fortunate to have so many of our community members and staff come together to collaborate, bringing much needed resources to our communities,” he said in the release. “My prayers are with you and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Stay vigilant.”
““We appreciate Gov.Bullock’s leadership in protecting community health here in Montana and on our Indian reservations by prioritizing testing for the most vulnerable populations while maintaining sufficient supplies to continue testing individuals symptomatic for CCOVID-19”, Werk added. “Being able to test any member of the community, those elders and those with underlying health conditions — with or without symptoms — our neighbors, health care workers and first responders, is important to keep them safe as well as our community, and ensures our tribal government and health care system can continue to function throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It is great that our tribal community now has this expanded capacity. ”