Montana coronavirus (COVID-19) update for Saturday, March 21

Montana COVID-19 map for Saturday, March 12
montana covid map graphic for saturday, march 12
Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 21:52:47-04

GREAT FALLS — Lewis & Clark, Flathead, Ravailli, and Madison County all saw their first reported cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and the total number of cases confirmed by Montana health officials rose to more than 20.

(NOTE: Three cases were confirmed in Cascade County several hours after this article was posted; click here for details)

Lewis & Clark Public Health confirmed that three county residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The patients are a man in his 30s, a woman in her 40s, and a teenage boy. Public health officials say the teen boy and the man in his 30s are recovering at home. The status of the woman has not been released.

A few details of the Ravalli County case were released on Friday night. On Saturday morning, Ravalli County Coronavirus Incident Management Team Commander Carol Calderwood said the patient was a teen girl who acquired the virus while traveling internationally. As of Saturday morning the state had yet to update its tracking site to include the Ravalli County case.

Flathead County on Friday confirmed two cases: a man in his 50s and another man in his 30s. Officials say that the man who is in his 50s is originally from Illinois and will not be counted towards the total number of Montana cases. The man in his 30s is a health care provider at Kalispell Regional Medical Center and had traveled out of state, but not to a high-risk area. He traveled in a vehicle by himself. He did not present symptoms right away, but once he did, immediately took appropriate precautions. The hospital identified 14 patients and nine health care employees that had potential exposure. All are in self-isolation at home.

Flathead health officials emphasized that if you have not been contacted by a health official, you should not be concerned that you came in contact with either male.

Infectious disease doctor at Kalispell Regional Hospital Jeffrey Tjaden reminds people how important it is to follow social distancing, even if you don't feel like you have symptoms: "While most cases of this are symptomatic, it can be spread by asymptomatic people," said Dr. Tjaden. "So, even if you're doing the right things if you're in close contact with individuals, you could potentially be exposing them or them exposing you. I think we've known that it's been in Montana, and now we do."

State officials are keeping a list of confirmed cases on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site.

A spokesoman for the Montana COVID-19 Task Force says that positive test results for Montana residents who are currently outside the state will not be included in the totals reported on the website, and said: "The state recognizes that its reporting totals will differ from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) total as a result of these reporting processes."