Potter County remains free of coronavirus

Meanwhile, cases increase across the river and Swiftbird community faced temporary lock down


Potter is now the only county east river and one of just two in the state with no reported cases of the Covid-19 virus. Harding County, in the northwest corner of South Dakota, is also virus free as of Tuesday, July 14.

Potter County has a population of around 2,200 and borders the Missouri River, which has been a popular destination for tourists, especially this year when some camping locations in surrounding states have been closed due to the pandemic. 

In the early stages of the pandemic, there were some restrictions put on businesses so out of state traffic would not be encouraged through the area, and the local nursing home and hospital were closed to visitors. Now the hospital has opened to limited visitor access, and business have opened, but still try to exercise caution with distancing, plexiglass guards at counters, and some mask wearing. 

So far, efforts are working as the county has continued to stay free of confirmed reports.

However, next door to the west of Gettysburg, despite checkpoints across the Forest City bridge in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus on the neighboring Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s reservation, numbers are increasing. 

Concern prompted a temporary “lock down” of the Swiftbird community, located just a few miles across the bridge.

According to a report on July 11, CRST Chairman Harold Frazier announced an order “temporarily limiting access to the Swiftbird community.”

Chairman Frazier instructed police officers to “only allow residents of the community to enter and not allow anyone to leave until further notice.”

Multiple positive cases in the small community prompted the lock down. The Tribe provided food and services necessary to keep everyone in the community safe at home, and on Monday, mass voluntary testing was conducted in the community.

“I am asking all non-residents of Swiftbird community to not travel to the community at this time. Non-residents traveling to the community may impede our plan to provide food, services, testing and medical care,” said Frazier in his initial statement about the lock down.

Testing results released by the Tribe do not specify how many, if any, Covid-19 cases there are within the 22 communities on the reservation.

As of Tuesday, there 40 positive cases on the reservation, with 3,954 negative test results. Additional mass testing is scheduled and is being conducted by the Indian Health Service and the CRST Tribal Health Department. 

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