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First confirmed case of COVID-19 found in Hill County

 

March 25, 2020

Hill County Health Department said this afternoon that the first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus 2019, has been confirmed in Hill County.

The man, who is in his 60s, has been told to remain isolated at home until fully recovered, a release from the Health Department said.

No information identifying the man may be released, under federal law, to protect his privacy.

Public health nurses will interview the man to find out where he has been in the past two weeks and with whom he might have had direct contact, the release said. Anyone who is a direct contact will get a phone call from Hill County Health Department with instructions on how to proceed.

The release said the disease has a 14-day incubation period, so if anyone who is exposed to the virus becomes ill, it would happen within two weeks.

“We hope residents will continue to practice good personal hygiene and distance themselves socially to help prevent the spread of the disease now that it’s officially here in the county,” the release from the health department said. “All of the preventative measures put in place over the past weeks take on new importance now that we know COVID-19 is in our community."

Symptoms of COVID-19 typically include fever, dry coughing and shortness of breath.

People experiencing these symptoms or who believe they have been exposed to the virus are advised to self-isolate for at least 14 days. People should quarantine themselves and any exposed family members, which will help reduce the spread of the virus.

Northern Montana Health Care, after it was confirmed that people in Hill County may have been exposed to the virus, recommended people with symptoms should treat the symptoms with Tylenol, Motrin and over-the-counter cold medicines.

People who cannot manager their symptoms at home should make their first contact with health care professionals by telephone.

Gov. Steve Bullock has issued directives, which he extended Tuesday through April 10, to reduce exposure to the virus.

Those include closing K-12 public schools — the Great Falls-Billings and Helena dioceses of the Catholic church have closed Catholic parochial schools until May 4 — closing bars, casinos and restaurants cigar bars.

health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities

at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios, and indoor recreational facilities; movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls, and casinos except for delivery or drive-through or carry-out orders of food.

His directive Tuesday also imposed requiring all other retail businesses establishing, implementing and enforcing social distancing policies sufficient to ensure a minimum of six feet of distance between customers, effective Friday.

The requirement does not apply to grocery, health care, medical, or pharmacy services, which also are encouraged to comply with social distancing guidelines.

The Tuesday directive also requires social distancing at any public gathering.

Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence of greater than 10 people are prohibited immediately by Tuesday’s directive, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.

The directive also advised parents that they should avoid, if possible, placing children for childcare with grandparents, family members, friends, or providers over the age of 60 or people with compromised immunie systems.

March 12, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian — who later became one of the earliest confirmed cases in Montana — issued a directive telling campuses of the system to switch to online classes, which Montana State University-Northern is implementing, along with making changes to its meal services, asking students in the residence halls to find alternate living arrangements and closing some facilities like the gymnasium and weightrooms.

Chancellor Greg Kegel said he also made the decision to close non-essential facilities and shut down activities on campus. The campus is still open for all university business, but wherever possible, the university will be providing services remotely via email, phone calls, and so on and will not be opening its facilities to the public.

declared an emergency in the state March 12, and reported the next day that four cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, had been confirmed in Montana.

A flurry of local and state orders came out in the next week, closing all K-12 public schools, restricting bars and restaurants to pick up or delivery meals only, limiting access to public facilities, health facilities, athletic facilities and private businesses, aid packages being approved and many groups offering assistance to people in need or who are concerned about the virus.

Novel coronavirus 2019, a new strain of virus related to the virus that causes many mild ailments including the common cold, was first detected in China in December.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. 

But the disease can cause serious illness and can be fatal.

Older people, and people with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness, CDC reports.

The virus and disease rapidly spread in China and then spread outside of its borders.

World Health Organization declared a pandemic, a global outbreak of a disease, March 11, and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency March 13.

The state COVID tracking map, available online at http://bit.ly/MTCoronavirusMap , reported at 8 a.m. this morning 53 confirmed cases in the state, which did not include the information on the Hill County case.

The site is scheduled to be updated at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that 54,453 cases have been reported in the United States, with cases in all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands, and 737 deaths.

World Health Organization reported today that 416,686 cases have been confirmed in 18,589 countries, areas or territories, and 18,589 deaths have been confirmed.

For information on how to reduce exposure to the virus and how to deal with symptoms of COVID-19, visit, https://www.havredailynews.com/story/2020/03/25/local/recommendations-on-preventing-exposure-to-and-dealing-with-coronavirus/528151.html .

 

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