Stay-at-home orders and mask warrants helped the Blackfeet tribe crush a second wave of COVID-19 infections and led to the reopening of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to public travel this spring, according to a news report. study. do to use the resilience it has to protect itself, ”Missoula County health director Ellen Leahy said of the study published in the Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality weekly report, released Friday. “If a community decides they have the political will to get out of this pandemic, they can do it.” The Blackfoot tribe was one of the first communities in Montana to react aggressively to the pandemic last March. In particular, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council has taken action to protect the few dozen people who are fluent in their language. Losing them to a highly infectious respiratory disease threatened the loss of their traditional culture, according to tribal spokesperson James McNeely. Here’s a look at Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccination program and the setbacks it experienced along the way. Responses included a ban on all non-residential traffic within the reserve, including tourists wishing to use the eastern entrances to Glacier National Park. Residents were required to wear masks in public and refrain from all public activity, but extremely necessary. The reservation remained almost COVID-free for much of the early spring and summer of 2020. But the use of the spa relaxed. summer camping with gatherings at the Kalispell Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo and over Labor Day weekend, cases have increased 63 times more than reported in July. Coronavirus infections struck nearly one in 10 Native Americans on the reserve between June 16 and December 10. After a new stay-at-home order was issued on September 28, infections fell by a factor of 33 – by 6.4 cases per 1,000 residents from October 5 to 0.19 before November 7. Keeping the eastern entrances to Glacier National Park closed, moving all students to distance learning for the fall semester, and providing a Thanksgiving meal to each household to reduce trips to the grocery store may also have contributed to the success, according to the report. “The strictly enforced stay-at-home order, with increased penalties, likely contributed to the more than thirty-fold decrease in incidence by November 7,” the report said. “The sharp drop in the incidence of COVID-19 in the Blackfeet Tribal Reservation may not have happened without widespread and consistent application of the mask use mandate in public and stay-at-home orders . ” The study also found that the first people in the Blackfoot community to fall ill after the rules were relaxed in August were among young people, followed by a second wave of infections among those aged 50 to 65. About 85% of transmissions occurred within households among the Pieds-Noirs, compared to 22% of transmission within households among the Montanais in general. In addition to the physical restrictions, the Pieds-Noirs also acted quickly to immunize their population. Last month, the Tribal Business Council reopened the Glacier Park border and general activity reservation, though masks and social distancing are still needed. “If you look at county by county, look at counties with Indian reservations – they all have higher rates of vaccination than counties that don’t,” Leahy said. “And the highest vaccination rate is Blackfeet. It’s very high. They reached far in the estimated immunity of the herd. The study authors recognized several limitations. These included a possible misclassification of infections from two separate COVID testing systems, combining reports from multiple agencies and limited data on household, workplace and community circumstances on the reservation. .