Havre Daily News - News you can use

Local agencies working to test for COVID-19 as possible


Last updated 4/3/2020 at 8:10am

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

A sign out outside First Lutheran Church Wednesday in Havre reads "We worship in spirit, but not in person." Churches are closing their services in the churches with some offering online or radio services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As is the rest of the state and the country, this part of north-central Montana is trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic with a low number of kits available to test for the illness.

“We have limited supplies and are doing our best to procure the necessary supplies to sustain testing,” Hill County Health Department Director Kim Larson said.

Not everyone can get a test, she said. The decision to test has to come from a doctor.

Larson said Northern Montana Health Care is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for who should be tested.

CDC’s website says people who are put at the top priority to test are people who are hospitalized and health care facility workers. This ensures the top care options for people who are hospitalized, reduces the risk of health care-associated transmission of the virus and helps maintain the integrity of the health care system, CDC’s site says.

The next highest priority is for patients in long-term care people with symptoms, patients who are 65 or older with symptoms, patients with underlying conditions with symptoms and first responders with symptoms. This ensures the people with the highest risk of complications are rapidly identified and treated, the site says.

The third-highest priority is people who work in critical infrastructure, health care worker and first responders, people with mild symptoms in communities with high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and people with symptoms who do not meet any of the previous categories.

This allows reducing the spread of the virus in the surrounding community of rapidly increasing hospital cases and ensures the health of essential workers, the CDC site says.

People with no symptoms are treated non-priority, compared to people who are at higher risk for either infection or complication as well as individuals in a community with an increasing number of hospitalized cases.

The Montana COVID-19 tracking map, available online at http://bit.ly/MTCoronavirusMap, reported this morning that 5,320 tests had been completed with 227 cases confirmed and five deaths of COVID-19 patients.

Of the confirmed cases, 20 were hospitalized, which the site says generally includes from tests performed after the patient was admitted to the hospital.

Patients who are not at high risk and have comparatively mild symptoms often are told to quarantine at home, rest, stay hydrated and treat the symptoms, typically a dry cough, fever and body aches. The local health department regularly checks in, typically twice a day, with people who are confirmed to have COVID-19 and are quarantined at home.

Northern Montana Health Care has recommended people use over-the-counter cold and cough and fever and body ache medication to treat the symptoms.

Larson said that if a person is tested, on average it takes two to four days to get results back from the test.

She added that people who become symptomatic should make sure and self-isolate at home, treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medications, make notes of their symptoms and/or fevers.

She said people should call the Flu Clinic if they need more assistance or guidance at 262-1570.

Treatment depends on symptoms, she said. 

“At this point, I want to remind everyone that staying at home and complying with social distancing directives is our best weapon against COVID-19. Please do your part and stay home,” Larson said.


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