Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

New COVID-19-related death reported in Liberty County

Number of new cases dropping, Fort Belknap lifting some restrictions, Coutts border port opened


Last updated 2/16/2022 at 12:29pm

A new COVID-19-related death has been reported in the area, with the state COVID tracking web page listing Tuesday the third death in Liberty County.

The death confirmation - which lags behind when the cases are originally confirmed - comes as new cases continue to be reported in the area, though the number of new cases is dropping from what it was in the past months and as restrictions are eased at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and the border port of Coutts north of Shelby fully reopens.

Hill County is at 71 deaths while Blaine County is at 30 and Chouteau County is at 14.

The clinic at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, numbers from which are reflected in either Hill or Chouteau county numbers, has reported 10 deaths while Fort Belknap Indian Reservation's health service, numbers which are included in either the Blaine or Phillips county numbers, has reported 14.

As the numbers of new cases - which surged to new records from January on as the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 hit the area - have dropped, Fort Belknap Indian Community Council voted this week to move to Phase 2 restrictions effective at 12:59 p.m. Tuesday.

The reservation had gone into shutdown as numbers soared then maintained Phase 1 restrictions until last night.

The reservation health service reported 15 new cases Tuesday with four active hospitalizations and 51 active cases.

By the start of February the reservation was reporting 30 or more cases daily with near 100 active cases, multiple hospitalizations and reported its 14th death Feb. 5.

The council voted Tuesday to move to Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which allows businesses and offices to operate at 50 percent of capacity while still requiring masks in most situations in public places and still having some travel restrictions in place, with fewer travel restrictions in place for people who are fully vaccinated. Fort Belkap residents are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated if they have not done so.

The full reopening guidelines are listed on the council's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FORTBELKNAPCOUNCIL .

Blaine County as a whole reported 50 new cases confirmed Saturday through Tuesday with 98 active cases, six active hospitalizations and 30 deaths.

Hill County reported Tuesday eight new confirmed cases with one active hospitalization, 92 active cases and 71 deaths.

Rocky Boy reported Tuesday five new cases with no active hospitalizations and 66 active cases.

Updated data from the state tracking system was not available this morning by the time this article was filed.

Coutts reopened, Gianforte, Canadian leaders call for lifting mandates

Canada Border Services Agency reported Tuesday that full operations had resumed at the Port of Coutts, across from the Port of Sweetgrass north of Shelby at the U.S.-Canadian border.

Travel into Canada had been restricted as protesters, starting primarily with truckers, blockaded the highway while protesting COVID mandates in Canada including that truckers must be vaccinated to cross into Canada, a restriction Canada and the United States implemented last month.

Canadian law enforcement had worked to break the blockade including seizing caches of weapons, news agencies reported.

Law enforcement also had broken up a blockade and cleared the border at Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, the single busiest land border crossing in North America, and other land border crossings.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked Canada's Emergency Powers Act to allow law enforcement to break up blockades and illegal protests.

Canada's capital, Ottowa, is still largely shut down due to protests there.

As the border blockades cleared, Montana's governor stepped into the fray, joining others including the leaders of Alberta and Saskatchewan to call on Trudeau and President Joe Biden to lift Canada's mandates.

"We understand the vital importance of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19 and continue to encourage eligible individuals to get vaccinated. However, we are deeply concerned that terminating these exemptions has had demonstrably negative impacts on the North American supply chain, the cost of living, and access to essential products for people in both of our countries," a release from Gianforte said the leaders wrote in a letter to Biden and Trudeau. 


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