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Local COVID cases linked to bars, restaurants

by Daily Inter Lake
| July 22, 2020 5:04 PM

Recent investigations show many of Flathead County’s newest cases of COVID-19 are associated with individuals who work in service industries such as bars and restaurants, according to a Wednesday press release from the Flathead City-County Health Department.

The number of close contacts potentially exposed in each case has increased as well, the press release notes. In response to the influx of cases, health officials are urging business owners and community members to make responsible choices and take all necessary precautions to keep businesses operating.

“If a positive case is identified in a facility, our public health nurses work with the individual to help determine all close contacts that person may have exposed during their infectious period,” said Tamalee St. James Robinson, interim Health Officer for the Flathead City-County Health Department. “All close contacts of the positive individual are required to self-quarantine for 14 days since last exposure. This can hit a business hard, especially if many of their staff are named as contacts and must quarantine.”

The health department urges the public to continue practicing social distancing, masking and hand hygiene protocols to help keep local businesses and their employees safe.

Flathead County has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. As of Wednesday morning, there were 37 active cases and 149 total cases of COVID-19 in Flathead County, according to the health department’s website.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s recent mask requirement “was put in effect as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 transmission statewide,” the press release stated. Masks are required in public spaces in all Montana counties with four or more active cases of COVID-19.

“It is evident that our county is seeing community spread,” Robinson said. “We are asking everyone to take Governor Bullock’s directives seriously to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. Wear a mask when in public, stay six feet apart from non-household members, and stay at home if you feel sick. We all must do our part to keep our businesses open during these unprecedented times.”

For up-to-date information on local Flathead County cases go to the health department’s website at https://www.flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/.