New COVID cases clocked in county

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Beaverhead County tallied three new positive coronavirus cases in the past week, as new cases continued to grow across the state.

As of Tuesday, Beaverhead County had 75 total cases of the virus, with three active, according to state of Montana data. The majority of cases are in individuals in their 20s; followed by those in their 60s and 40s. The county has seen one death from the virus since the state began tracking in March.

Public Health Director Sue Hansen said Tuesday the new cases can be linked to the rodeo as the most likely source of infection.

There were 863 new cases and 21 deaths tallied over the past week in Montana. New deaths occurred in Big Horn, Fergus, Flathead, Hill, Lincoln, Meagher, Musselshell, Rosebud, Sanders and Yellowstone counties. Fergus, Meagher, Musselshell and Sanders received their first deaths from the virus this week.

As of Tuesday, the state recorded 9,244 total cases and 140 deaths from COVID-19. There were more than 6.5 million total cases and 193,700 deaths recorded nationally as of Monday.

Jim Murphy, chief of Montana’s communicable disease bureau, said last week that COVID-19 cases stemming from college campuses around the state will be attributed to the county where the college campus is located. This differs from how virus cases have been tracked on the state website – positive cases are attributed to the county of residence for the person, rather than the location where they were diagnosed or treated.

Some colleges around the state, such as the University of Montana’s Missoula campus, have set up their own virus-tracking databases.

Also last week, Gov. Steve Bullock announced outbreak response protocols for K-12 schools to incorporate in their school reopening plans. The guidance was developed with local and state public health experts in conjunction with school officials. Bullock said educators and school nurses asked for the guidance, and it did not overrule local public health restrictions. The protocols provide guidance on how to inform school staff and parents when a student tests positive, to ensure privacy requirements are met yet providing information to help limit virus spread in an outbreak.