Sunday, August 09, 2020
75.0°F

Flathead exceeds 200 total COVID cases

by Kianna Gardner
Daily Inter Lake | July 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Flathead County crossed the 200 cumulative case mark on Tuesday after the state’s COVID-19 Task Force announced 94 new cases statewide.

Of Flathead County’s now 201 cases, 78 are currently active, 121 have recovered and two have died, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department’s website. As of Tuesday, the area had five active hospitalizations, three of which are patients from another jurisdiction.

Over the past two weeks alone, Flathead County has reported more than 100 new cases — an increase that is occurring in other parts of Montana as well, as the total case count nears 3,500. The state has tested more than 160,000 individuals.

The turnaround time for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in Montana is currently about two weeks. In other words, when the state reports new cases every morning, it is likely some of those individuals - those who went in for tests but had no symptoms - actually went in for testing as many as 14 days prior.

Last week, health officials released a statement encouraging community members to continue with social distancing, masking and hand hygiene protocols in order to “help keep local businesses and their employees safe.” The health department also recently started posting a disclaimer on its COVID-19 dashboard that reads “due to community spread of COVID-19 in Flathead County, in addition to the influx of cases being reported every day, it is currently difficult for the Flathead City-County Health Department to determine and report the source of new cases.”

As of Tuesday, the health department was currently monitoring nearly 500 individuals, which includes all local cases and close contacts.

Interim Public Health Officer Tamalee St. James Robinson said contact tracing was an easier task in the spring when Montanans were quarantined because “close contacts usually involved whoever was in your household.” But she said now that people are out and about, it is not unusual for someone to list off 20 or more possible close contacts. However, according to Robinson, the health department is currently able to manage monitoring and contacting efforts despite the climb in overall cases because they have brought on additional staff.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in Flathead County, go to https://flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4407 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com