LCPH not approving events larger than 50 people after COVID spike

Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 21:18:27-04

HELENA — The Lewis and Clark County Board of Health met Thursday afternoon to discuss COVID and new efforts by Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) moving forward.

Due to the recent spike in cases, LCPH will hold off on approving plans of any event over 50 people and telling organizers they should hold off and wait until a later date.

“Because of the increase we are going to say no large gatherings right now,” said Health Officer Drenda Niemann. “Expect to hear from us that we’ll ask that you cancel or postpone any event if it’s over 50 people right now.”

A new tool by Georgia Tech allows communities to see real time the odds of COVID exposure depending on crowd size.

On Thursday a crowd size of 100 people in Lewis and Clark County had a 99 percent chance of someone present having COVID. A crowd size of 50 was around 91 percent.

LCPH will also be making an increased effort to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick.

“Our data is showing that the cases that we’re seeing in our county can be directly linked back to people going to work sick,” explained Niemann. “Employers need to support employees who call in and say that they’re having symptoms and they need to stay home. Employers also need to be sending their employees home if they do come to work sick.”

This week the CDC updated their definition of a “close contact” for COVID.

The new definition includes anyone that has spent a combined 15 minutes of time with someone less than 6 feet apart during a 24 hour period.

LCPH also made an update to their response for businesses and organizations that are noncompliant for COVID guidelines.

On the second violation a member of LCPH will now visit with the business about the situation and the violation. Previously a member of law enforcement would deliver a letter from LCPH.