Cascade County: no COVID-19 cases, no formal restrictions on restaurants at this point

Posted at 8:21 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 12:42:53-04

GREAT FALLS — The City-County Health Department in Great Falls says that as of 7 p.m. on Monday, March 16, there are NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cascade County. More than 20 samples have been sent to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) lab in Helena to date, and all have come back negative.

Trisha Gardner, the CCHD Health Officer said that Cascade County “anticipates sending samples daily” from healthcare providers to both state and commercial labs. “It’s excellent news that we still don’t have COVID-19 cases in Cascade County,” Gardner says. “However, we are continuing to work with community partners to prepare our response and mitigation efforts.”

The CCHD also said that while several counties across Montana have decided to close or limit what services restaurants and bars can offer, Cascade County has opted not to issue an order to impose restrictions on such establishments at this time. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will carefully weigh any decisions with the potential to create significant economic impact and disruption," said Gardner. Click here to see the list of Montana counties that have implemented restrictions.

CCHD strongly encourages people to practice social distancing and good hygiene. “Residents should absolutely take whatever steps are necessary to protect their health—and more, they should prudently consider the impact their decisions could have on the health of those around them,” Gardner said. People should practice social distancing, even if such measures seem extreme to otherwise healthy individuals. Instead of going out to eat, people should order delivery or take-out. “We want people to support local businesses, but do it in a way that supports social distancing.”

There are several community resources available if you have flu-like symptoms and feel you need to be seen by a doctor. PLEASE CALL before you come in. All the agencies below have helplines set up to do screenings & give further guidance: Benefis Health System: (406) 455-2500; Great Falls Clinic: (406) 454-7275; Alluvion Health: (406) 454-6973.

Governor Steve Bullock on Monday evening said that there are two new positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Montana, bringing the total number of cases in the state to eight.

  • The new Missoula County patient is a man in his 20s
  • The new Yellowstone County patient is a woman in her 20s

The tests, conducted by the DPHHS Public Health Laboratory in Helena, were confirmed Monday evening. State and local public health laboratories are no longer required to send “presumptive positive” samples to CDC for confirmation. From now on, respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV2 in a state and public-health laboratory will be considered “positive” with no need for further testing. DPHHS and the county health departments are immediately following up to learn more details about the two individual’s exposure risk, travel history, and to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been in close contact with the patients. No other information about the patients has been released. All patients will be isolated or quarantined pursuant to public health guidelines. Those who came into close contact with the individuals will be monitored for 14 days for fever and respiratory symptoms per CDC guidance.

This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Montana to eight. The six previously-announced cases in Montana are:

  • Gallatin County: man in his 40s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel
  • Yellowstone County: woman in her 50s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel
  • Butte-Silver Bow County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Broadwater County: man in his 50s who sought care in Lewis and Clark County; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Missoula County: a man in his 50s, and a woman in her 30s

As of Monday, March 16, DPHHS has tested a total of 311 people for COVID-19; eight of those results have been positive, and 303 have been negative The state currently has the capacity to test approximately 850 more people, and anticipates receiving more tests from the CDC as needed. Click here to visit the DPHHS website. DPPHS says that COVID-19 testing is available 7 days a week; for information about testing, call 1-800-821-7284.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, you can take the following steps to protect yourself and your family.

  • To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, you can take the following steps to protect yourself and your family.
  • Stay home if you’re sick,
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with the crook of your elbow or a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wash your hands frequently
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), as of March 14, there are 3,487 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the nation. There have been 68 deaths. Click here for the latest information about COVID-19 at the CDC website.