Coronavirus: Blood Tribe officials not caught off guard after first confirmed case

Blood Reserve officials respond to first confirmed case of COVID-19
Officials in the Blood Tribe say despite the announcement of a first confirmed case of COVID-19, they have been prepared for months with strict health protocols and several plans of action. Emily Olsen reports.

The Blood reserve has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, but officials were prepared for the announcement on Wednesday.

“Blood tribe has been at zero cases since the start of the pandemic,” department of health representative Martin Heavy Head said Thursday. “We’ve had a pandemic plan with our public health service since 2006 because of the H1N1 pandemic.

They believe they have traced the case back to a workplace, which AHS is carefully monitoring.

READ MORE: 190 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 3 new deaths

“It looks like [the case] stems from the Bouvry meat packing plant in Fort Macleod, where somebody tested positive,” Heavy Head said. 
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“And AHS is doing all the contact tracking.”

While everyone on the reserve is following AHS guidelines, officials have further restricted gatherings to five people or fewer, and say all medical front-line workers are prepared with proper protocol and protection.

READ MORE: ‘We’re very proactive’: Blood Tribe declares state of emergency despite zero confirmed cases of COVID-19

“We’ve been operating under the assumption that COVID-19 is already here,” Heavy Head explained.

Alberta sees 190 new cases, 3 new deaths from COVID-19
Alberta sees 190 new cases, 3 new deaths from COVID-19

Council and several departments also meet almost daily to reassess and coordinate their response.

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“We do have some departments that run shelters,” director of emergency management Rick Soup explained.

Those shelters have been set up for individuals who aren’t displaying symptoms, to better quarantine away from crowded households. There is one for elderly members, one for singles and couples without children.

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Officials add that a family shelter is in the works.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta phased relaunch strategy will see some restrictions eased Friday

In an announcement sent out to the community on Wednesday, officials urged members to continue to practice social distancing and hygiene and to take care of one another with patience and respect.

“Our usual messages from the start have been to stay at home,” Soup said.

Their hope is that the spread stops here, especially with the donations of supplies from surrounding communities.

“We truly appreciate all that support, I think we try to extend that support to our neighbors as well,” Soup said. “We have to be able to adapt to any changes.”

With no other confirmed cases yet on the reserve, the Blood Tribe’s careful preparation may already be paying off.

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