All four schools, the homeless shelter, daycare and now the tribal administration office are closed for the rest of the week on the Siksika First Nation as the community deals with a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The numbers jumped from zero to a dozen in just a few days.
“There are presently new cases with unknown sources being detected, and/or an overwhelmingly account of COVID-19 activity on the Nation,” reads a notice from the Siksika Nation Administration issued Tuesday afternoon.
As a result, the Siksika Nation tribal manager is closing the administration building from Nov. 3 to 6, with the exception of essential services.
According to Siksika Health Services, as of Tuesday afternoon there are 12 active cases on Siksika Nation. Last week there were no active cases.
“It is concerning that there is an outbreak, but at the same time I feel confident in our health department,” said Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot.
There was previously an outbreak at one point in the summer, but there have been less than 50 positive cases in the community of nearly 5,000 residents. Siksika Health has tested more than 7,500 people since the end of March and has done contact tracing.
Crowfoot said community leaders have been pushing people to follow public health guidelines including wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distance.
“Even though we have these precautionary measures in place it's a virus," he said.
"We can't 100 per cent stop this virus but we do our best to put these preventive measures in place, so we can at least hopefully get in front of this virus.”
On Monday, the Siksika Board of Education informed parents schools would be closed for the remainder of the week to conduct a thorough cleaning and sanitization while the buildings are vacant.
Crowfoot says shutdowns are to protect families.
“On the nation we have a little bit of a higher risk because of our demographic, because we have a lot of multi-generational households," he said.
"If you have 10, 12 people in one household, how can you socially distance?”
Anyone in Siksika having trouble dealing with anxiety or emotional stress during the pandemic can contact a Siksika Health Services Mental Health therapist by calling 403-734-5660, which is a confidential service.