HELENA — Lewis and Clark Public Health officials say they used a long-established process in identifying and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the community following the identification of a presumptive positive case.
On Friday, one of the first four presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Montana was found in the tri-county area.
According to a Saturday afternoon press call with the governor's office, a Broadwater Co. man in his 50's acquired the virus while traveling to an area with known COVID-19 transmission in Washington state.
The residency of the patient was initially misidentified because he was tested in Lewis and Clark Co.
Lewis and Clark Public Health says in cases like this, nurses and health experts use a process called disease surveillance and containment.
Nurses will contact the patient and instruct them to isolate themselves at home. The patient must also provide a detailed list of people they have been in contact with since symptoms began. Health officials will also determine where the individual has been since becoming infected.
Nurses will track down those contacts and ask them to self-quarantine for two weeks.
If any of those contacts become sick, public health nurses will begin to track down that patient's contacts.
In a news release Saturday following the identification of the Broadwater Co. case, Health Officer Drenda Niemann said, "We feel confident that this process is working and that all appropriate measures are being taken to protect the people we serve.”
The Governor's Office said Saturday that all four of the presumptive positive patients in the state are recovering at home.
Lewis and Clark Public Health says that the community can further prevent the spread of disease by practicing social distancing and good hygiene.
Social distancing means staying away from group settings, avoiding crowds, and staying about six feet away from others. Other recommendations are:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
- If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
- Stay home when you’re sick;
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash; and
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
Anyone who thinks they may have contracted COVID-19 should call a medical provider.