Blood Tribe uses lessons learned during the opioid crisis to tackle COVID-19

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Coun. Lance Tailfeathers of the Blood Tribe says lessons learned from the opioid epidemic are helping the community respond to a COVID-19 outbreak that has so far infected 15 people.

The Blood Tribe, also known as the Kainai Nation, is the largest First Nation in Canada with more than 14,000 members. It declared a local state of emergency on March 16 as a safety precaution and recorded its first novel coronavirus case at the end of April.

Fifteen cases are now confirmed on the Blood Reserve, according to Blood Tribe Emergency Management. Ten remain active and five are recovered. These are the results of 706 COVID-19 tests, meaning about two per cent have come back positive.

“Unfortunately, the lesson learned was in 2015 when we had the opioid crisis. There were two weeks with 20 deaths,” said Tailfeathers. “We put together a core group, so a lot of the players in that from different departments like health and family support had already gone through this before, so we regrouped.”