Valley County Sees First Affiliated COVID Case
Confirmed Case From Individual Currently Outside Of County
June 24, 2020
Valley County recorded its first COVID-19 case last week. According to the health department, a local man in his 60s tested positive for the disease while he was outside of Valley County and is being isolated in the county he tested positive in.
At press time, no further information had been released about the case to include how long he had been out of the area before testing positive and how many suspected contacts he may have had with local residents while infected. According to the press release, they were working to identify and contact “all individuals” who had come in close contact with the man and were “at risk of infection.” Those individuals will be tested for the disease, added the release.
Montana has experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in the last three weeks which have been linked to the state’s efforts in testing for the virus and to reopen the economy after months of stagnation and economic losses due to closures and cancellations. In the week leading up to June 22, the state had recorded 127 new lab-confirmed cases, the latest in a large jump following weeks of low and sometimes zero reported cases that brought the state into the “phase-two” stage of reopening.
The largest increase in that seven-day period came on June 19 when 31 new cases were reported. That single-day jump in cases is the second highest daily total since Montana started keeping track of logged cases in early March. The highest spike was 35 on March 26. Montana had experienced 43 straight days of reporting eight or fewer cases a day with 39 of those reporting four or fewer a day and 15 of those reporting zero cases a day.
As a result of the spike, Governor Steve Bullock addressed the state on June 17 to point out that much of the increase can be traced to more testing. Montana has been conducting “sentinel” testing across the state which has served to identify infections that may have otherwise gone undetected. Large clusters of cases have been found in Big Horn, Custer, Gallatin and Yellowstone counties during the past few weeks.
On June 23, Montana reported to the public that 163 cases were still active in Montana and 13 of those cases were in the hospital. The state has only reported 734 cases since the pandemic began—the lowest in the nation—of those more than 700 cases 21 have died. The state has conducted over 72,900 tests at the state lab.
“We don’t want to be taking steps backwards after how far we’ve come in successfully maintaining the lowest number of cases in the nation,” said Bullock. He added that Montanans should be conscious of the fact that the virus is still present in the state and they need to be careful to reduce the spread.
The Governor was adamant that Montanans needed to be utilizing effective measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He called on all Montanans to wear masks and demonstrate to visitors and others that taking measures to prevent the spread is normal and expected in Montana. He stressed that everyone should act as if they are infected in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The most effective means of control are wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.
Unrelated to the associated Valley County test, Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow is planning to hold sentinel testing on June 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During that time, any person in Valley County who would like to be tested can utilize the drive-thru testing at the facility. The samples will be tested at a lower priority than suspected cases and those cases associated with health care workers, vulnerable populations and first responders, but the result may present a snapshot into the possible covert spread of the virus in the region.