By Michelle Bigelbach
The Courier 

Valley County Confirms Second Death

Positive Cases Still On The Rise


October 14, 2020

Over the past week, Valley County has added 65 new cases and five hospitalizations to the county’s COVID-19 numbers. As of press time, there are 58 active cases with 137 recovered for a total number of cases of 195, and 12 total hospitalizations with four active.

The increase in county numbers come as the state hits record highs in new cases. On Oct. 12, the state recorded 7,432 active cases, which is the highest it’s been since the state started regularly publishing COVID-19 information in March and as of Oct. 11, there have been 210 COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Valley County recorded their first death of the virus on Oct. 6, which occurred on Sept. 24, of a man in his 50s. Another death occurred on Oct. 10 of a man in his 80s.

“We are counting on you to do your part in preventing this highly infectious virus – protect others, protect yourself,” stated Valley County Health Department Director Lynn Miller in a release.

As a result of the increasing numbers of positive cases, the Valley County Health Department has re-evaluated their contact tracing process. After the Health Department receives word a person is positive, the Health Department will attempt to get in touch with the person as quickly as possible to notify them of the test result as well as obtain a list of close contacts. They will also inquire if those contacts have texting capabilities. The Health Department then will text the close contact a link to a form to fill out or call the person if necessary. After the form is filled out, the Health Department will then follow up via text or e-mail for further instructions for testing.

“We are moving to this online method because we just can’t keep up with the phone calls and the large volume of contacts that need to be reached every day. Of course, we will still call persons who don’t or can’t text or use e-mail. We hope to be timelier with all parts of the process and expect that this will also help to get lab results to everyone,” stated Miller.

The Health Department continues to stress the need to social distance and to avoid crowds. “For persons not within your household, please do not spend 15 minutes or more at less than six feet of distance,” Miller said in a release. On Oct. 8, the Health Department stated the County had a superspreader event on Sept. 12, of which 44 positive cases have been directly attributed to. Further information on the event was not available as of press time.

“Our county is experiencing a large uptick in active COVID-19 cases. It’s in the schools, the nursing home and FMDH, in addition to our businesses and government offices,” stated the Valley County Commissioners in a message to the community. “So, Valley County residents, it’s time. It is our responsibility to get this virus under control by following social distancing recommendations every day, every place, every time.” The full message can be read on page 2A.

On Oct. 9, Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital confirmed four hospital employees tested positive for COVID-19. In a release, FMDH stated the hospital is working with the Valley County Health Department while also following guidance from the CDC as the safety of employees, patients and families are the hospital’s top priority. The release also stated, “each positive case has been contained, contact tracing has been completed and all proper protocols are being followed.” The hospital stresses the hospital is safe, open and ready to care for the public and asks not to delay healthcare needs during this pandemic.

On Oct. 12, the Glasgow School District confirmed their 12th case of COVID-19 in the district, this case being a student at Glasgow High School. The release issued by the school stated the positive test was confirmed on Oct. 11 and the student last attended in-class or had person-to-person contact with fellow students/staff at the high school on Oct. 7. At the time of the release, there were no plans to close the high school as Irle school students and teachers started their second week of remote learning due to the surge in confirmed cases at the county .

Athletic director Brenner Flaten announced on Oct. 12 due to the recent surge of cases in the county, spectators will be limited for at least the next two weeks for football and volleyball games. Home athletes and coaches will receive four ticket vouchers each while visiting school athletes and coaches will receive two ticket vouchers each. Student attendance will not be limited, with Glasgow High School and co-op students being able to attend without a ticket voucher however those in pre-kindergarten and eighth grade will need a ticket voucher to attend. Spectators who are attending to watch the football game in their vehicle or to sit in the grandstands for the football game on Oct. 16 or those sitting in the gymnasium for the volleyball matches on Oct. 14 and 17, vouchers need to be presented to the ticket sellers to gain admittance.

Nashua School confirmed their first student case of COVID-19 in the district on Oct. 12. The release issued by the school stated the positive test was confirmed on Oct. 12 and the student last attended the school on Oct. 6. At the time of the release, there were no plans to close the school and the District and Health Department were reaching out to families involved. Those students who were contacted will be transitioning to distance learning for the duration of their quarantine.

Also due to the growing numbers of confirmed cases, Prairie Ridge has decided to stop all visitation for their residents to ensure their safety. The facility understands how difficult it is for family members however their concern is for the health and safety of residents.

To address the surge in cases throughout the state, Governor Bullock hosted a press conference on Oct. 7 where he urged local jurisdictions to establish and enforce safety measures to prevent the spread.

“Local elected leaders have to stand up and say ‘We can do more to get the buy-in.’ All the tools are there to limit the spread and transmission. It’s up to the locals to enforce their directives,” Governor Bullock stated. “......It can’t all be solved from Helena.”

He also expressed how more cases will lead to continued stress on hospitals and will also cause more Montanans to lose their lives. He encouraged people to quarantine if they are exposed, to stay home if they feel sick, wear masks, avoid crowds and practice social distancing, stating it is up to Montanans to curb the spread.

“Pandemics don’t go away on their own and they don’t spread on their own either,” he stated.

The confirmed cases announced over the past week were:

Case 131: Male age 70-79

Case 132: Male age 40-49

Case 133: Female age 60-69

Case 134: Female age 20-29

Case 135: Male age 30-39

Case 136: Female age 20-29

Case 137: Female age 60-69

Case 138: Female age 30-39

Case 139: Male age 10-19

Case 140: Male age 40-49

Case 141: Male age 50-59

Cases 142 through 156 were within the age range of 10 to 79. Nine are female and six are male. Six were identified through contact tracing, five of which were symptomatic when their tests were obtained. Nine were identified through the clinic or ER visits, of which all were symptomatic. These positive cases encompass three Valley County towns.

Cases 157 through 179 were within the age range of 10 to 99. Thirteen are female and 10 are male. Eleven were identified through contact tracing while 14 were identified through the clinic or ER visits. These positive cases encompass six Valley County towns.

Cases 180 through 195 were within the age range of 10 to 99. Eight are male and eight are female. These positive cases encompass three Valley County towns.


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