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By Tim Leeds 

Blaine County confirms first case of COVID-19

Testing offered at Fort Belknap Thursday and Friday


Last updated 7/15/2020 at 11:36am

Blaine County has now confirmed its first case of COVID-19, coming during a surge in cases in the state and additional deaths due to the disease, right before surveillance testing is scheduled for the county Thursday and Friday.

Montana has now broken the 2,000-mark in confirmed cases and reported 145 new cases on the state COVID-19 response map, which did not include the Blaine County case, and two new deaths in Yellowstone County, bringing that total for the state to 34. The state total was listed this morning at 2,096.

A release from the Blaine County Health department said the person with the confirmed case has been isolated and their contacts are being traced.

People who are identified as contacts will be contacted by the Blaine County Health Department or the health department in the jurisdiction of their residence, the release said.

The release said people need to practice safety to reduce the spread of the virus.

“At this time, we are acutely reminded of the reason for the mitigation strategies local health departments have been encouraging,” the release said. “These strategies include wearing a mask when you cannot maintain a distance of at least 6 feet, sanitizing and disinfecting, washing your hands frequently, staying home when sick and avoiding large gatherings.”

The announcement comes as a surge continues throughout the state, including 13 new cases being confirmed in Hill County from July 4 through Sunday. No new cases were confirmed in Hill County by Monday or Tuesday evenings.

Chouteau County still has not reported any confirmed cases of residents of the county, and the only case listed for Liberty County was confirmed in March.

The announcement comes while testing is planned at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation for any residents of the county, tribal or non-tribal and from surrounding communities.

Twice-weekly testing also has been announced at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.

Fort Belknap Tribal Health Department, in cooperation with the governor’s office, the Montana National Guard and the Blaine County Health Department is offering the drive-through and walk-through testing Thursday and Friday.

The Tribal Health post on its Facebook says no identification is required. People will fill out a questionnaire and be tested.

Testing is free and available to all including people with no symptoms.

The testing will be available Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Horse Capture Park at the Fort Belknap Agency and the St. Paul Mission at Hays, and at the agency only Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The post says people with questions can call Fort Belknap Public Health Nursing at 353-3250 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or the Disaster and Emergency Services Hotline at 353-8469 from 5-10 p.m.

And Rocky Boy Health Center announced in a Facebook post that it will be doing COVID-19 surveillance testing for asymptomatic symptoms only Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10 a.m. in the ambulance garage. Testing will start this Thursday.

The surveillance tests will be sent to the state and will take 10-14 days to receive the results. No incentives will be given during these tests, the post says.


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