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Smith's grocery store in Great Falls will offer periodic "seniors only" shopping

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 18:18:48-04

GREAT FALLS — Smith's grocery store in Great Falls said on Tuesday that it will begin offering periodic "seniors only" shopping in response to growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Store manager Art Williams says that starting on March 18, the store will be open on Mondays , Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7am to 8am for seniors aged 60 and older. Williams said that they will have store employees "on site to assist as we can."

In addition, he noted a change in store hours - the new hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the general public until further notice.

“Smith’s wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need to avoid busier and more crowded shopping times,” said Smith’s Corporate Affairs Manager Aubriana Martingale in a news release. “We request that customers respect these hours for the health of our community during this time of uncertainty. We appreciate all of our customers for their kind consideration, whose concern contributed to our decision to provide allocated hours for seniors.”

Smith’s will also be waiving its pick up fee at the point of transaction for online orders that are received curbside for shoppers that are 60-years and older through April 18, 2020.

The policy applies to all Smith's stores, including the ones in Bozeman, Columbia Falls, and Kalispell.

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.

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.