Lewis & Clark County, as of June 17th, has four active cases of COVID-19 all are related to cases discovered earlier in the month of June that showed up after eight weeks with no new cases.
"What we're seeing is specific to the reopening strategy. When we started to reopen, we anticipated and understood that we would start to see new cases, and that's just exactly what is happening," says Eric Merchant, the Lewis & Clark Public Health Disease Control and Prevention Division Administrator.
Eric Merchant and Public Health expected the new cases within Lewis and Clark County, but don’t have estimates on how many more cases the area might see in the next few weeks.
"If I had a crystal ball, I think it would be pretty easy to see that we are going to see the caseload continue to increase and again, it gets down to the idea that we need to manage that caseload and those contacts," says Merchant.
When it comes to caseload, Eric says it is up to us, the community, to help manage it but following the health guidelines like wearing a mask and staying six feet apart. Eric says Phase 3 is still a way to go even though four new cases doesn't sound a lot.
"We're just not there yet. We are still having a lot of concern on compliance and understanding the directives and why they are important,” says Merchant. “Also, seeing the increase in cases, while four is not a lot, we have seen additional contact with some of these cases. We have to be able to manage this situation from all angles before we are ready to move into Phase 3. From a health department perspective, we are nowhere near there."
Public Health says if things worsen, they may need to implement more tracing services and education and outreach for the virus.
Lewis and Clark County has had a total of 20 cases since the virus was first found in Montana back in March 2020.