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Governor: Young Montanans are catching and spreading COVID at higher rates

Young Montanans are catching and spreading COVID at higher rates
Posted at 10:33 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 09:07:20-04

Montana reported multiple days of more than 200 daily COVID-19 cases this past week, so Gov. Steve Bullock is calling on Montanans to mask up and practice social distancing to help health officials get a handle on the virus.

“We’re still in this together, and each of our actions have a direct result on others,” said Bullock during a Wednesday news conference in Helena. “No matter if we live in a county with five cases or a county of 500.”

The state says there are nine counties in Montana they consider hotspots: Flathead, Lake, Missoula, Lewis and Clark, Cascade, Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone and Big Horn.

Those counties have 50 or more active cases, and comprise around 80% of all Montana reported cases in June and July.

In Yellowstone County, 19% of the cases are connected to assisted living or long term care facilities.

Bullock told members of the press on Wednesday while they are testing more across all age groups, the state is seeing more younger age groups contributing to new COVID-19 cases.

“In Gallatin County, three-quarters of the cases come from those under the age of 40,” said Bullock. “Young adults are certainly more likely to socialize in larger group sizes, and we know that large gatherings continue to play a large role in increased cases.”

Helena resident Caty Gondeiro, 23, also spoke at the press conference on her recovery from COVID-19, and just how damaging the virus can be, even to a young and healthy individual.

“People say you just get the flu and you get over it, and it’s no worse than a bad cold. This is much more serious than that,” said Gondeiro. “For me being healthy and 23 and having this experience, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a high risk group.”

Gondeiro says she’s still having health issues weeks after testing positive for the virus. She often finds herself with shortness of breath and has noticed some neurological symptoms as well.

On Wednesday, Bullock also announced a new PSAs for their #MASKUPMONTANA campaign that features public health and healthcare officials from across the state.

The videos will showcase personal stories about the importance of taking personal steps like wearing a mask to curb the spread of the virus.

The PSAs will begin airing Monday across the state, and will be posted to the DPHHS Youtube page.

An in-depth interview with Gondeiro about having COVID and recovering by MTN’s Jessica Nelson can be found here.