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Officials: 4 COVID-19 cases in Montana acquired outside the state

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Posted at 2:18 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 16:39:45-04

HELENA — Dr. Greg Holzman, Montana State Medical Officer, announced Saturday the patients who tested positive for COVID19 all got the virus out of state. Two of the people, including a woman from Yellowstone County, acquired the virus out of the country.

In all of the cases, the Montana patients self-quarantined and have had minimal contact with the public.

Gov. Steve Bullock, Adjutant General Matthew Quinn, and state public health officials hosted a press call to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Four individuals in Montana tested presumptive positive Friday evening. There are four positive cases in the counties of Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Broadwater.

The Gallatin patient is a male in their 40s and traveled international. The Yellowstone patient is a female in their 50s and traveled international. The Silver Bow patient is a male in their 50s and traveled to the state of Washington. The Broadwater patient is a male in their 50s and traveled to Washington.

All of patients are at home and recovering. The tests, conducted by the DPHHS Public Health Laboratory, were confirmed Friday evening. As is current standard, test results are considered presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Montana will begin testing 7 days a week beginning on Monday.

All patients will be isolated pursuant to public health guidelines. Those who came into close contact with the individuals will be monitored for 14 days for fever and respiratory symptoms per CDC guidance.

The state currently has the capacity to test approximately 1,000 individuals and anticipates receiving more tests from the CDC as needed.

On Thursday, Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana to direct a coordinated response to COVID-19 and mobilize all available state resources including emergency funds or personnel from the National Guard. It also allows the governor to take additional steps as warranted.

A COVID-19 information phone line at 1-888-333-0461 has been launched and Montanans can also email questions to covid19info@mt.gov. State public health officials will be responding to inquiries from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Montanans can also visit covid19.mt.gov [covid19.mt.gov] to receive regularly updated information on COVID-19.

According to CDC, the elderly and people who have severe chronic medical conditions seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness. Reported illnesses in the US have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The CDC and state public health officials recommend all Montanans take the following precautions:
Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, and then throwing the tissue in the trash.

Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth ‑ with unwashed hands.

Stay home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor: If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have COVID-19 symptoms. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Stay home except to get medical care: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.

It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. Stay current on your vaccination, including the flu vaccine.

Watch for travel advisories. Consult the CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside the US.