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Anyone who has left the Crow Indian Reservation and traveled to areas affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, is being asked to self quarantine for 14 days.

The Crow Tribe Executive Branch outlined the voluntary quarantine in a declaration of a state of emergency Saturday.

The 14-day self-quarantine request includes people who went to "any basketball tournaments" and also those who have "had any travel in and out of the state," a tribal press release states. 

For the Crow Tribe, social and community events are also being asked to postpone until the state of emergency is lifted. 

Additionally, the tribal government will implement travel restrictions for all tribal employee work indefinitely, and all tribal non-essential tribal employees are being asked to work from home for the next 14 days. A 10 p.m. curfew is also going into effect, according to the press release.

All outlying communities, including Wyola, Lodge Grass, Pryor, St. Xavier and Crow Agency are included in the state of emergency declaration.

More than 50 members of the Crow Tribe traveled to Chicago to be present last Thursday for the opening of an exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum called "Apsaalooke Women and Warriors." The exhibit is the largest to pair historical and contemporary items in the Crow Tribe's history. By Saturday evening there were 66 novel coronavirus cases in Illinois, with 40 of them in the Chicago area.

Likewise, there were multiple teams from schools around the Crow Reservation that played in the recent state basketball tournament that initially went on with no attendance restrictions even as states across the country either canceled or imposed attendance limits on similar tournaments. 

The tournament continued even after Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency over the virus on Thursday. By early Friday evening the Yellowstone County Unified Health Command was recommending organizers of large events postpone activities to reduce public exposure to germs. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency later Friday evening.

At about 9 p.m. Friday the Montana High School Association decided to cancel the tournament. The plan all along had been to cancel if cases arrived in Montana that weren't isolated or limited to places like a hospital or senior care center, reported. Games continued to be played Friday night even after it was decided that the tournament would not continue Saturday.

The decision to cancel came after the state announced its first four presumed positive COVID-19 cases: a man in his 40s from Gallatin County; a man in his 50s from Broadwater County who sought treatment in Lewis and Clark County; a Yellowstone County woman in her 50s; and a Butte-Silver Bow County man in his 50s. 

Saturday, two cases in Missoula County were announced as presumed positive. One case is Clayton Christian, the commissioner of higher education. Christian is believed to have contracted the virus at a March 5 Board of Regents Meeting in Dillon that was attended by dozens of people. The Christian diagnosis suggests COVID-19 was in Montana and potentially circulating for at least eight days before the state confirmed any cases.

Someone is presumed positive if they test positive locally for COVID-19, but their test results have not been confirmed yet by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The other Missoula County case is a woman in her 30s.

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets and person-to-person contact. Experts believe a person can have the disease and spread it without showing symptoms, but symptomatic people are also highly contagious. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

COVID-19 can attack the lungs and in severe cases can damage them to the point where oxygen flow becomes so impaired that people are unable to breathe due to the accumulation of fluid, pus and dead cells in their lungs.

Some have mistakenly compared COVID-19 to the flu. That is a dangerous misconception. It is 10 times deadlier than the flu, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The disease has spread so rapidly in Italy that it has overwhelmed the nation's healthcare system, forcing some medical professionals to choose who lives and dies because they are unable to treat everyone. The disease is especially dangerous to older adults and people with serious chronic health conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people stay home when they are sick, wash hands often with soap and water, avoid close contact with people who are sick and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

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