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Health Board discusses surge in COVID cases in Montana


Last updated 7/1/2020 at 11:43am

The Hill County Health Board met Tuesday and discussed the recent surge of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Montana, with the state now above the 1,000-mark in cases.

Hill County Health Officer Jessica Sheehy reported Tuesday the state has been seeing an increase in confirmed cases.

Tuesday saw 49 new cases of COVID-19 and 50 new cases were confirmed this morning.

Sheehy said that Monday was the record day so far, with 56 confirmed cases.

“Most of those existing to be centered in the western part of the state, Yellowstone, Gallatin and Missoula County, but certainly there are a couple outliers as well,” she said. 

She said 406 tests have been completed in Hill County with three pending.

“Certainly, some of these numbers that we’ve talked about previously are to be expected as far as we are following the CDC’s guidelines and testing close contacts, and as we get more positive cases obviously that means more contacts, but certainly concerning seeing the jumps in numbers,” she added. 

The state had 1,016 confirmed cases listed this morning with 50 new cases

Gov. Steve Bullock announced last Thursday an updated directive that permits safe visitation in nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are able to follow infection control protocols per guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Sheehy said the residential facilities in Hill County are proceeding with caution and trying to decide what’s best for the residents and employees.

Every facility has the ability to make their own recommendations, she said. The health department is in contact with the facilities in Hill County.

“It is going smoothly, but certainly not full force to open at this point,” she added.

Hill County Public Health Director Kim Larson said she has been dealing with a lot of phone calls and questions about events.

She said she is looking at changing the form that people who want to have events have to fill out a little bit on to get more information, and specific information on how during these events the people holding the event will meet the Phase 2 guidelines in Bullock’s directive.

Currently it says “yes we will follow,” but doesn’t get into how they will do it, she said, adding that the health department just needs a little more information to clarify how these guidelines are being met.

“I’m doing this on my own based off of the number of cases that I’m seeing and information that came out (Monday) in a news article that a lot of these new cases are clustered from weddings that have happened or other parties that have happened,” she said. “Just a reminder that it is Fourth of July weekend. I know that people will probably have barbecues and parties. Try to limit your contact with people and use social distancing, sanitizing and washing your hands a lot. This is not going very quickly.”

“It’s not an if we get a case it’s a when. Just hoping to be prepared for that,” she added.

Larson said the health department hasn’t received any complaints since the last board of health call.

Nothing specific has come up, she said, it seems that people are doing what they need to be doing.

She added that more activities have taken place in the area and all of those have submitted plans to the health department.

Hill County Attorney Karen Alley said no issues have been brought to her attention and her office has not received any complaints or citations since the last call as well.

Hill County Sanitarian Will Lorett said things have been going normally and they have been doing inspections.

Bullhook Community Health Center CEO Kyndra Hall said Bullhook is doing an open drive-through testing next Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The next COVID-19 update of the Hill County Board of Health will be held Wednesday, July 15,  at noon via GoToMeeting at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/805108917 or people can join by phone 866-899-4679 Access Code: 805-108-917.


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