Healthcare Workers in Poplar Test Positive for COVID-19
April 8, 2020
*This is a developing story. More information will be added as it is obtained*
Northeast Montana Health Services Inc. and the Fort Peck Tribal Government confirmed rumors that the two cases of COVID-19 in northeast Montana (one in Richland County and one in Roosevelt County) were employees at the Riverside Family Clinic in Poplar. At press time, tribal and county officials had not commented to the Courier about the workers or their roles at the clinic.
NEMHS Inc. said that the employees were home for 14 days and that they were working with Roosevelt County health officials to contact individuals who had come in contact with the employees.
Patty Presser with the Roosevelt County Health Department did not comment on the possibility that two healthcare workers had tested positive in Roosevelt County. She stated that the county had one recent case and that they were working to identify close contacts and working with Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services officials. She said she would not comment on whether the Roosevelt County resident was a healthcare worker.
Prior to sending press releases, tribal and county officials did confirm that they were working on a “situation” but that they were not ready to release any information at that time.
On the morning of April 8, Tribal Council Member Kaci Wallette posted to Facebook confirming that two individuals on the Fort Peck Reservation had tested positive for COVID-19, which was less than 24 hours after Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure put out a statement condemning rumors on Facebook of a possible infection.
He further threatened people with fines and jail time for spreading rumors online that may induce a panic.
“Remember that spreading false information that has not been verified, through word of mouth, advertising and social media that creates a public panic can be prosecuted which includes a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time,” read the statement signed by Azure and posted to Facebook by council members. Azure had not returned phone calls asking for comment by press time.
In their release, the NEMHS Inc. said they had conducted 41 tests since COVID-19 testing had begun and that only one was pending and only two had been positive.