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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Indian Health Service Providing Coronavirus Testing In Tribal Communities

The tribal seal for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Little Shell Tribe
Montana Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Home
The tribal seal for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Indian Health Service Is Providing Coronavirus Testing In Tribal Communities

The Indian Health Service is facilitating coronavirus testing in tribal communities across the United States and in Montana. 

Chairman Gerald Gray of the newly-recognized Little Shell Tribe says the Indian Health Service confirmed tribal members’ access to IHS facilities as of Wednesday morning.

He says the tribe doesn’t have its own clinic yet but tribal members can now access IHS facilities statewide.

“This is because IHS doesn’t have any new construction or what they call facility money for us. So, right now, even though it’s a federally recognized tribe, we have no facility to provide any kind of services to our members,” Gray said. 

Gray says he expects a written and signed confirmation of service, which last week Montana’s Congressional delegation encouraged IHS to provide.

IHS clinics are the most accessible form of medical service for many tribal members

Crow Tribe of Indians spokesperson Cordell Stewart says as of Wednesday afternoon, Crow IHS had sent five samples to be tested and all returned negative.

Health authorities in Yellowstone County say swab samples are taken at local healthcare facilities and sent to either the state lab in Helena or one of two private companies, Quest or LabCorp. They say the state lab turns results around in 24 to 36 hours while the private labs may take three to seven days.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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