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Gallatin County COVID-19 cases up to 19


March 25, 2020

There were 12 new cases of COVID-19 reported Monday, five Tuesday, and three Wednesday in Montana bringing the statewide total to 53.

There are two reported cases in Madison County and 19 in Gallatin County.

Governor Steve Bullock announced Tuesday that school closures, as well as dine-in and bar restrictions, would remain in effect till April 10.

On Saturday, the Gallatin-City County Health Department (GCCHD) stressed that now more than ever, residents need to collectively continue to take actions to slow down the spread of this disease.

Four of the additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Gallatin County on Saturday.

Unlike the previous cases reported in the county, these four patients have had no known travel history, exposure to someone who traveled, or exposure to known COVID-19 cases.

These new cases indicate that there is evidence of community transmission in Gallatin County.

Community transmission means the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown or cannot be directly traced back to a known exposure.

GCCHD's communicable disease team has been in touch with all of these cases and are currently conducting contact investigations to minimize additional transmission. All patients have had mild symptoms and have been isolated. And those who had close contacts with the patients have been quarantined.

"We understand that this may be concerning to hear and we anticipated this day would come," said Matt Kelley, Health Officer for GCCHD, "We stress again that now is the time to take strong action, and this underlines the importance of the restrictions and closures GCCHD and the governor have put into place to limit the spread of this disease."

Limit contact with groups of people, whether you're sick or not and maintain social distancing when in public as much as possible. Stay home whenever possible, except for your essential needs. Self-isolate when you are sick, even with mild symptoms. Continue to frequently wash your hands with soap and water and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Work from home if possible. Self-quarantine for 14 days if you've recently returned home from international travel.

"Remember, one of our primary goals is to flatten the curve and limit the number of new cases so as not to overwhelm medical resources," Kelley said.

Everyone should be assured that public and private agencies are working hard to provide a high-level response to this pandemic. We need the community and individuals to continue to take personal responsibility.

Public health officials launched a seven-day-a-week hotline for questions about COVID-19. It can be reached at 406-548-0123.

The most accurate local source of information remains the GCCHD website

Three Rivers Medical Clinic owner Cindy Bates said the clinic offers home visits and nursing home visits, and can also offer advice over the phone on proper steps to take.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is joining a bipartisan group of colleagues calling on federal agencies-including the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management-to mobilize their employees to assist with COVID-19 response in rural counties and tribal communities.

"Throughout rural America, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture employ thousands of federal civil servants who have the relevant experience to assist with emergency response," Tester and his colleagues wrote to the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and FEMA. "...We believe these federal professionals are well suited to partner with rural counties and municipalities to enhance staff capacity and support communities facing this public health crisis. Therefore, in light of the national emergency declaration, we urge you to take immediate steps to ensure your agencies are working together to make your respective staff and resources available and able to assist with emergency response to COVID-19 across the country."

The U.S. Treasury Department announced last week they would be moving the tax deadline for individuals and businesses to July 15.

"The absolute last thing Montana families and businesses should be worrying about during a public health emergency is filing forms with the IRS," said Tester.

Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Sheila Hogan today announced steps the agency is taking to ensure Montanans continue to have access to various agency programs and services, while still protecting the health and safety of the clients and staff related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Hogan said in response to COVID-19 concerns, select DPHHS offices with services that require face-to-face interaction with clients and staff will be closed beginning Friday, March 20, 2020 until further notice. These closures will impact the Offices of Public Assistance, Child and Family Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Vital Statistics, Women, Infants and Children, Child Support Enforcement, and the Developmental Disabilities Program.

"DPHHS has the technology infrastructure in place to continue serving clients during this time," Hogan said. "For now, we'll be expanding on the use of various technology already in use until we can resume in-person assistance that we know is important."

The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.

Three Forks Market owner Rick Lamb checks out a customer last week. Due to COVID-19, the market has changed its hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please shop local at the market and other small businesses, as well as getting take-out from local restaurants. Voice photo by Melissa Jenkins

The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.

"I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day's supply of blood for the hospital," said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. "The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait."

"In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis," said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. "Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life."


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