Local virus cases nearly double to 50 total

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Beaverhead County’s total positive coronavirus cases have almost doubled over the past week, with public health monitoring 14 active cases as of Monday.

Public health officials have determined the county has “community transmission,” and there has been a surge of new cases in Beaverhead in recent weeks.

Community transmission occurs when cases do not have an identifiable origin. Counties with community spread include Beaverhead, Big Horn, Cascade, Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Madison, Missoula, Ravalli, Rosebud and Yellowstone. Many of the outbreaks in other counties can be attributed to Montana residents traveling out of state and returning, then attending large gatherings such as weddings or funerals, state officials said previously.

The state of Montana’s website showed Beaverhead County had a total of 50 COVID-19 cases and 15 active cases Tuesday. That compares to 27 total cases and 19 active at the same time last week. Most of the cases are for individuals in the 20-29 age group (13), followed by 50-59 age group (7), and the 60-69 and 70-79 age groups (6). The rest of the cases are split with five each in the 40-49 and 80-80 age groups; three total cases each in the 0-9 and 10-19 age group; and two cases in the 30-39 age groups.

Community spread confirmed

Public health officials say state numbers differ from the local tallies because it gets case counts throughout the day, while the state COVID-19 tracking site is updated once daily. As of Monday afternoon, public health said the county has 50 total cases with 14 active, and two people hospitalized, according to a press release.

Cases are considered “active” when they are still in isolation or quarantine, and there is criteria to determine when those cases are no longer active, Public Health Director Sue Hansen said at Friday’s board of health meeting. Cases are hospitalized when they are admitted into the hospital for COVID-19. The hospitalized cases are included in the active case count.

Public health asks for patience from residents as they attempt to trace contacts with few employees. Residents who think they have associated with a positive case, and have not been contacted after a couple of days, should call the health department at 683-4771 for instructions. People are asked to not go to the hospital seeking a test, but to contact their doctor first.

Also this week, test results from the county’s only community testing event came back, several weeks after they should have. That testing event was held July 10. State of Montana officials previously said Quest Diagnostics was the lab responsible for those tests, and it’s nationwide backlog caused the delay. The state has since contracted with another laboratory and is working with Montana State University to process those tests. It is unclear if the latest tallies of positive cases include these test results.

Overall, thew state of Montana has increased by 839 positive cases in the past week and has seen 13 new deaths. Deaths occurred mostly in Big Horn and Yellowstone counties, according to the state of Montana website. The state of Montana had 4,314 cases and 64 deaths as of Tuesday. Nationally there have been more than 4.6 million people infected and 154,400 deaths as of Monday.