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Hill County sees new surge in COVID-19 cases


Last updated 8/25/2020 at 11:43am

The Hill County Health Department reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the county Monday afternoon, all but one of which were found through contact tracing, with the other being listed as travel-related.

That puts the county to a total of 69 cases with 22 active, 45 recovered and two deaths.

Hill County Public Health Director Kim Larson said the travel-related case confirmed Monday is suspected to have been contracted outside the county and the cases found through contact tracing stem from more than one initial case, however, she said there is no community spread and, while this new crop of cases is a cause for attention, it is not particularly abnormal.

"It's definitely a red flag for our community, but one of the positives is that we know where these infections have come from," she said, "We don't have community spread at this time, and we're hoping it stays that way."

Rocky Boy Health Center reported 14 new cases on its Facebook page Monday.

The health center's number includes all positive test preformed at the facility. Cases of Hill County residents are included in the Hill County Health Department number and cases of Chouteau County residents are included in the Chouteau County Health Department numbers.

No new cases were reported in Chouteau County Monday.

Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation lies in both Hill and Chouteau County.

Larson said contact tracing is ongoing.

She said contacts of positive cases are tested and asked to quarantine for 14 days, during which time the health departments contacts them at least daily to discuss symptoms and administer a second test if they think it is necessary.

Of the 15 cases, 10 were listed as being in the 0 to 9 age range, another is a teenager, three are in their 20s and one is in their 40s.

Larson said this new crop of cases is something the health department is keeping a close eye on, but for now they are not making any recommendations regarding the suspension of in-person instruction for schools in the county.

"Of course, any time we see an increase in cases in our community we're going to sit up pay attention a little bit more," she said. "We, at the health department, are not going to make a recommendation not to start school as a result of the 15 new cases that we had yesterday."

Larson said there is no indication that these cases are the result of any particular event or gathering.

She also said this new surge highlights the need for people to continue their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus by doing things like washing hands thoroughly and wearing masks when social distancing is impossible.

"This just really emphasizes the need for social distancing and keeping groups small and paying attention to who you're around, so if we have to call you for contact tracing you don't have to give us five plus names you can just give us one or two," she said.

Larson said the health department will continue to work on contact tracing and will keep the community updated.

The first case of COVID-19 in Hill County was confirmed on March 25 which remained the one and only case until July 4, after which the county experienced a surge in cases. The county had gone to 43 cases by July 31.

Before the new numbers Monday, the amount of new cases had dropped, with five new cases reported from Aug. 17 through Sunday.

Since the surge started, Hill County has only briefly dipped below the four active cases that requires the county's compliance with Gov. Steve Bullock's mask mandate issued July 15.


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