Stillwater count hits 13

7 cases active
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Stillwater count hits 11

Five new COVID-19 cases were reported in Stillwater County this week — bringing the total to 13, with seven considered active.

The latest three include a woman who was infected through direct contact from a Yellowstone County outbreak, one man in his 20s and one man in his 50s.

Neither man had traveled out-of-state and both are home. Stillwater Billings Community Health Nurse Natasha Sailer said Wednesday that the point of origin for both men is community spread.

“Outside of county travel was noted, but we are unable to trace either case back to an origin,” said Sailer.

Both men had “very limited contacts,” including immediate family members, who are all quarantined.

Information about the most recent two cases is still pending.

Stillwater County residents are now required to wear masks in government buildings and businesses that are open to the public, per a directive handed down by Gov. Steve Bullock Tuesday afternoon. That directive can be viewed in the attached PDF file.

In light of the five local cases this week, Stillwater Billings Community Health is asking anyone who has been identified as a contact of an individual that is COVID-19 positive by Public Health to contact the Stillwater County Public Health Department for screening at 322-1070.

For those resident who are asymptomatic, the next screening will be offered Tuesday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until tests run out) at the fairgrounds in Columbus.

Residents who are ill and think they might have COVID-19 are asked to call their doctor.

DRIVE-THROUGH TESTING

A total of 72 Stillwater County residents participated in the drive-through testing at the fairgrounds two weeks ago, which has produced no positives to date.

“Due to them being asymptomatic screens, they are not prioritized as high because they are more of a surveillance test,” said Sailer. “Priority is offered to those tests where individuals have symptoms, when you have symptomatic healthcare/EMS/First Responders, surgical needs, hospitalized patients, and those transferring to a long-term care or assisted living facility.”

Sailer explains that asymptomatic testing is done to look for the negatives.

“We know that about 85 percent of individuals with COVID-19 have no symptoms, then 15 percent will have symptoms, severe illness, and possibly death,” said Sailer.

The sentinel screens are used as a two-fold process:

•To see what the population really looks like and how many of the asymptomatic positive cases there actually are.

•To see what the overall total is really looking like.

Until fairly recently, mass testing has not been available, so those numbers haven’t been validated until this mass screening has been available, said Sailer.

GOVERNOR TALKS NUMBERS, MASKS & TESTING

Governor Steve Bullock addressed a handful of issues during a Wednesday afternoon call with reporters. He started with addressing the increased numbers of positive cases, saying the increase was a combination of many factors, such as cluster outbreaks and increased testing. Bullock specifically named Big Horn, Yellowstone and Gallatin counties as three that are having issues with larger household transmission situations.

Bullock also reiterated that Montana continues to have the lowest number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths per capita.

The governor also said that nearly 50 nursing homes have completed testing or will in the next week or so. And almost 4,500 tests have been administered at long-term and assisted care facilities with no positives to date.

“But we all have to do more to slow this virus,” said Bullock.

To that end, Bullock spoke about staying on top of hand-washing, social distancing, wearing masks where social distancing is not possible, staying at home if you are sick and using tele-medicine.