COVID-19 confirmed in Hill County
Residents urged to continue social distancing, self-isolation
March 26, 2020
After more than a week of preparation, Hill County now has its first official case of COVID-19.
Hill County Health Department said Wednesday in a release that the first case of the disease caused by novel coronavirus 2019 has been confirmed in Hill County.
The state COVID tracking map, available online at http://bit.ly/MTCoronavirusMap, reported at 8 a.m. this morning Montana has 71 confirmed cases including the Hill County case.
No cases were confirmed in Blaine, Chouteau or Liberty counties.
The site is scheduled to be updated at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day.
The Hill County man, who is in his 60s, has been told to remain isolated at home until fully recovered, the release said. The man more than likely acquired the virus while traveling out of state.
Under federal law, no information identifying the man may be released, to protect his privacy.
The health department said 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, body aches 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 manage their symptoms at home should make their first contact with health care professionals by telephone.
Northern Montana Health Care locked the doors to Northern Montana Care Center and Northern Montana Hospital, allowing no visitors except in cases patients facing imminent death and one support person for laboring mothers, NMHC said in a release last week.
The hospital generally is only allowing entry to the hospital through its emergency department on the second floor and people entering there will be screened before entry.
Northern Montana Family Medical Center and the Northern Montana Specialty Medical Center are open for appointments, but any patients presenting flu-like symptoms; fever, dry cough, sore throat, stomach issues or nasal secretions, will be asked to report to the Flu Clinic
The Flu Clinic is located on the east side of the NMHC campus in the building formerly known as Medical Group East. Patients are asked to report to the parking lot of the clinic at 124 13th Street and then to call 262-1570 to arrange for an evaluation.
An ongoing pandemic
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 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, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock 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.
President Donald Trump declared a national emergency that same day, March 13.
A flurry of local and state orders came out in Montana over 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.
Bullock Tuesday extended his directives Tuesday to April 10, and mandated social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that 68,440 cases have been confirmed in the United States, with cases in all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands, and 994 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 more information on COVID-19 and how to avoid the coronavirus, help prevent its spread and how to treat symptoms, people can visit the Montana Governor's Coronavirus Task Force website at https://covid19.mt.gov , the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and the World Heath Organization website at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 .