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Ravalli County tallies 8 new COVID-19 cases; community spread increases
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Ravalli County tallies 8 new COVID-19 cases; community spread increases

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Following a flattened curve of COVID-19 cases since March, the number of cases in Ravalli County attributed to community spread increased over the weekend. Wash hands, keep a distance of 6 feet and wear a mask, says Ravalli County Public Health.

After flattening the curve since March, the Ravalli County number of community spread coronavirus cases has increased over the weekend with 148 people in quarantine.

In a press release Tuesday evening, Director of Public Health Karyn Johnston Johnston said Ravalli County has received notification of eight new cases.

“Three of these cases are contacts to another positive case and during quarantine they started experiencing symptoms,” she said. "The fourth person we have determined is community spread, as they are not a contact to another case and travel was not a factor. The fifth through eighth cases did travel to Montana from out of state. At this time, Ravalli County has 20 cases we are investigating and doing contact tracing. These cases are in Darby, Corvallis, Hamilton and Stevensville.

“Three cases are hospitalized. Through contact tracing, we have over 148 people in quarantine as they have been determined to be close contacts. We have also determined Ravalli County has community spread, since several cases cannot be traced back to another positive case.

"All of these cases are in isolation and their contacts are in quarantine."

Earlier Tuesday, Johnston said there has been a dramatic jump in the number of cases.

“The hospital said that on Friday they did 80 tests,” Johnston said. “I know we sent quite a few yesterday (Monday)." 

The individuals are under quarantine because they are a contact to a case and they must spend 14 days in quarantine.

“The CDC now says that now as soon as you find a contact to a case you test them,” Johnston said. “But they are in quarantine for 14 days and may come down with it on day 14.”

She said that taking temperatures does catch someone with a fever but it may not be a true indicator of whether someone has COVID or not. “Even without a temperature you could still be spreading the virus.” Johnston said,

Over the weekend several businesses closed or changed to walk-up service only but Johnston said the Public Health Department is not commenting on specific locations.

“There are several establishments that have had people with positives, it wasn’t necessarily their staff,” she said. “They have had positives in there so they have shut down to keep their staff safe and public safe.”

On Tuesday, the Ravalli County Public Health Department had six nurses, including Johnston, helping with the situation.

The coronavirus is community spread in Ravalli County yet the message from the health department remains the same.

“Stay home if you’re in that vulnerable population of older than 65 especially with underlying conditions like asthma, autoimmune diseases, cancer, even on some medications,” Johnston said. If you’re going to go out “wear a mask, keep social distance of six feet and wash your hands.”

Ravalli County has had 39 positive cases of COVID-19 so far. The Montana map show only 36 as three cases have out of state addresses. Every person identified has had contact tracing, been isolated at the time of testing positive and their contacts were quarantined. When they are symptom free and notified by Public Health they can come out of quarantine. Contacts who do not develop symptoms in 14 days are also released from quarantine.

“Not all of our cases have had symptoms when they were tested,” Johnston said. “Through contact tracing, we have referred people to be tested and some have come back positive.

Some of our cases have had severe COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, cough and shortness of breath.”

Johnston reiterated that COVID-19 is a serious viral disease that can cause severe illness and even death.

“There is no vaccine or readily available treatment,” she said. “It can be transmitted by people who are unaware that they are infected. Therefore, Ravalli County Public Health Department continues to stress that masks and physical distancing are measures proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Johnston pleaded for cooperation especially for the sake of more vulnerable community members.

“Their lives could be threatened by being infected,” she said. “We need to work together to help protect each other. Please, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice physical distancing.”

Call Ravalli County Public Health at 406-375-6672 with questions regarding COVID-19.

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