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

Montana's Tribal Nations Say They're Short On Medical Supplies

A new report says Crow women face long wait times, long drives and confidentially concerns when it comes to receiving reproductive healthcare.
Olivia Reingold
Yellowstone Public Radio
A new report says Crow women face long wait times, long drives and confidentially concerns when it comes to receiving reproductive healthcare.

Montana's Tribal Nations Short On Medical Supplies

Montana’s tribal nations say their first responders and medical professionals are short on equipment needed to protect health care workers from the coronavirus.

Tribal governments in Montana join others nationwide in saying they face a shortage of supplies.

Crow Tribe of Indians Incident Command Spokesperson Jack Old Horn says the Crow Tribe in southeast Montana lacks a number of items, including gloves and masks.

“Everything, any supplies that you can think of," Old Horn said. 

He says a local nonprofit is ordering some of those supplies on behalf of Crow incident command.

“Every supplier that they’ve contacted, they have none," Old Horn said. 

Other tribes in Montana say their tribes’ law enforcement and medical professionals are short on masks, including the Fort Belknap Indian Community in north central Montana and the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes in northeast Montana.

Many other tribes have put protective measures in place, including The Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, which posted on its Facebook page that it implemented checkpoints Tuesday at reservation entrances. The tribe is asking non-tribal members not to enter.

Tribes say they’re also waiting on federal dollars. Montana’s congressmen have encouraged the federal government to direct additional funds to tribes for COVID-19 response and preparation.

Mar. 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would distribute $80 million to tribal organizations for resource support. According to the HHS website, that’s on top of $64 million in funds for testing earmarked for the Indian Health Service through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

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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