BOZEMAN - Gallatin County confirmed eight new COVID-19 cases this week, bringing the total number to 11 active and 163 cumulative cases as of Friday.
Five of those eight came from West Yellowstone.
Gallatin County Health Officer Matt Kelley credits waste water testing and close contact tracing in helping identify cases. But the new cases suggest that the virus is being spread within the Gallatin County community.
"The new laboratory confirmed cases, in particular, are a strong indication that we are now experiencing a greater level of disease and disease spread in Gallatin County. In some cases, we are seeing cases with no clear link to other cases or to travel out of state. This is an indication that we are once again seeing community transmission of the virus in Gallatin County," Kelley explained.
But the increase in cases doesn't mean the county is ready to revert back to previous safety measures.
"We have a lot of fight left before we start reclosing anything. We've said all along there are a number of factors that'll play into decisions about how we move forward. Certainly, the number of cases is consequential. It's certainly worrying that we're seeing more cases on an ongoing basis, but I would note that we don't have people in the hospital right now. We don't have people showing up to the hospital that are gravely sick that we don't know about. We're seeing more hits in our waste water testing, but we're in the early stages of that, and we have a lot to learn about that," Kelley explained.
Kelley said he expected a rise in numbers as businesses, restaurants, gyms and other places opened back up.