4 new coronavirus cases in Montana announced on Friday

Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 21:22:47-04

GREAT FALLS — Four new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Montana were announced on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 19.

The Flathead City-County Health Department said that it has confirmed two positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Flathead County. The patients are a man in his 50s who is not a resident of Flathead County; the second is a man in his 30s. Both men recently engaged in domestic out-of-state travel, according to the Health Department.

A spokesperson for Kalispell Regional Healthcare said that one of these patients is a healthcare worker who had traveled and came back to work at KRH. Once KRH became aware of the situation, they immediately tested two other people and contacted the Flathead City-County Health Department who is now on site. KRH does not have the results of some of the other tests at this time. The spokesperson said that situation caused some of the KRH employees to be exposed to COVID-19 and, as such, they expect that there could be other positives.

And during a Friday afternoon press conference, Governor Steve Bullock announced two more cases: a Lewis & Clark County man in his 30s, and a Madison County woman in her 50s.

According to Lewis & Clark Public Health the man has been instructed to remain isolated at home until he has fully recovered. County Health Officer Drenda Neimann said, "“We wish this gentleman our best and hope he makes a quick and complete recovery. Our nurses will be interviewing him to find out where he’s been in the past two weeks and with whom he might have had direct contact. Anyone who is a direct contact will get a phone call from us with instructions for what to do.”

As of Friday (March 20) there are now 19 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the state of Montana. Yellowstone County has five reported cases, Missoula has four, Gallatin has at least three, Flathead County has two, and the following counties have one: Butte-Silver Bow, Broadwater, Roosevelt, Madison, and Lewis & Clark.

As of Thursday evening, the public health lab in Helena has completed 947 tests for coronavirus (COVID-19).

GovernorBullock on Friday morning announced measures to close dine-in food service and alcoholic beverage businesses and other activities that pose enhanced health risks, effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020. The order expires at 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020, the same day that school closures are set to expire, though the date will likely be extended.

The order states that the following places are closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public:

  • Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Cigar bars.
  • Health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios, and indoor recreational facilities.
  • Movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls.
  • Casinos.

The places subject to the order are permitted and encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service, and to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. Customers may order and pay by telephone or online from a retailer or manufacturer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the State of Montana. A retailer or manufacturer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the state of Montana may deliver for sale the alcoholic beverages for which it is licensed. Delivery must be conducted by the licensee’s employees over the age of 21 and age of the purchaser and recipient must be verified at the time of delivery. The purchased alcohol must be hand-delivered to the purchaser. In offering food or beverage, a place subject to this section may permit up to five members of the public at one time inside for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders, so long as those individuals are at least six feet apart from one another while on premises.

The restrictions imposed by this order do not apply to any of the following:

  • Establishments that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption, including grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and food pantries, other than those portions of the establishments restricted above.
  • Room service in hotels.
  • Health care facilities, residential care facilities, university dining facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities.
  • Crisis shelters or similar institutions.
  • Airport concessionaires.
  • Military dining facilities or military food operations.
  • Any facilities necessary for the response to the emergency, including schools providing necessary meal services to children.
  • All of the above-named facilities and establishments should adopt appropriate social distancing practices to avoid the spread of disease, to the extent practicable.

The state-wide order comes after several counties and town imposed similar restrictions earlier this week.