How COVID-19 recoveries are reported in Montana

Posted at 6:36 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 20:36:35-04

BILLINGS — As COVID-19 new cases accumulate daily in Montana, some people are wondering what constitutes a recovery in officials reports, and how that factors into the counting of active cases.

In a press conference Thursday morning, Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said that for a person to be classified as recovered they must be fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of any “fever-reducing medications.” Felton said patients must also have improvement in respiratory function and be at least 10 days from the onset of any COVID-19 related symptoms.

“If those three conditions are met, then the person is considered recovered and they are released from isolation," he said.

According to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS), the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not require follow-up testing for individuals to be released from isolation.

Jon Ebelt, a spokesperson for DPHHS, said delays in updating active case counts may arise when counties with high case numbers, such as Yellowstone, are not able to reconcile their data with DPHHS as often as others.

The 56 counties across Montana report daily COVID numbers at different times during the day, which often leads to a natural ebb and flow of the numbers at the state level.

Here's how it works:

  • When health care providers and laboratories report a positive COVID-19 result to local county health departments, that result will trigger an investigation by local health officials.
  • Investigations include contact tracing and notifying close contacts of exposure and health risks associated with the virus. This information is then submitted to the state health department.
  • As a result, reported active cases on any Montana county’s website may, and often do, differ from what the state department has reported for that day.

There were 184 new cases and two new deaths added to the total on the Montana Response COVID-19 tracking map on Thursday morning. Cascade County reported the most new cases with 58, followed by Yellowstone County with 33 and Flathead County with 25.

The data below is from the official Montana website on September 3:

  • TOTAL CASES & RECOVERIES: Montana now reports 7,871 cumulative cases statewide, with 5,584 people recovered.
  • HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 151 patients hospitalized, and a total of 472 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
  • ACTIVE CASES: The state reports there are currently 2,033 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
  • DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Montana is 111.
  • TESTING: The number of new tests is 1,520, for a cumulative total of 255,660 tests since March.

We encourage people to check the official website and/or Facebook page of their respective county health department for any updates that are not yet included in the state's daily updates.