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Lewis & Clark Public Health not aware of other cases of false COVID-19 reports

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 09:50:36-04

HELENA — Lewis and Clark Public Health say Wednesday’s false report of a positive COVID-19 test is the first case of an employee giving a false COVID-19 claim to an employer they have been made aware of in the county.

WinCo said in a statement that an employee had made a false report to them, prompting a letter to vendors that was shared on social media.

According to Public Health, the testing system is designed to immediately notify them if a positive case is confirmed in Lewis and Clark county.

On Wednesday, they heard through phone calls, emails, and social media that someone at WinCo was reportedly positive, and were concerned because there was not an official report of a case related to the store.

Public Health made contact with the employee to find out more information about their situation, and ensure proper steps were being taken to keep the community safe.

“Even though Lewis & Clark can’t disclose any identifying information related to COVID-19 cases, we do an extensive interview, identify their place of employment and work with the case to identify contacts at their place of work,” explained Shelly Maag, RN. “We also issue a written isolation order to the case informing them that they must maintain isolation until no longer infectious, and then make contact with anyone they may have come in contact with during their infectious period.”

According to the health department, WinCo had accepted the employee’s report of illness and followed its protocols about notifying vendors and employees.

CDC guidance says employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness.

Lewis and Clark Public Health told MTN this episode whipped up a lot of anxiety in the community, and they hope it won’t happen again. They are committed to keeping county residents informed of cases that occur, and will continue to let individuals know if they’ve potentially been exposed to the disease.