Carbon County planning big ramp up in COVID-19 testing

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 21:47:06-04

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock wants to ramp up community testing for Covid-19 as more tourists make their way into Montana. One of those destination areas that will be focused on is Carbon County, the gateway to the Beartooth Mountains.

A community testing event will take place this Friday and Saturday at Red Lodge High School for anyone who wants to be tested for the virus. Health officials are hoping to get as many people out as possible to be tested.

Carbon County Public Health Officer Dr. William George says the mass testing event is a kickoff to the surveillance testing that the county will be doing weekly for a percentage of front-line workers in the Red Lodge area—including restaurant workers and workers with other businesses.

“As the summer begins and as tourists come to this area, we will be able to adapt where are our infections happening. Are they happening in restaurants? Are they happening during our summer events? Are they happening in grocery stores? It will enable us to kind of look at micro-areas in our community and possibly make small mitigation in these areas as opposed to shutting down large parts of our economy,” said George.

So far, Carbon County has had six COVID-19 cases and all have recovered. George expects cases to rise as more tourists continue to visit.

“We know we can’t keep it out of our community, but if we can learn where cases are occurring and where increased infections are happening, then, hopefully, we can get ahead of that by tracking and isolating those cases,” said George.

All permanent and summer residents of Carbon County are being encouraged to take part in the testing, which will be held from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. both days in the parking lot of Red Lodge High School on Chambers Avenue.

The testing is free, quick, and painless. Those taking part will simply have to swap the front part of their nose with a Q-tip. The results are back in a few days.