Mid-September means classes are in full swing at Montana State University. And this fall, the Gallatin City-County Health Department will be reporting the number of COVID-19 cases associated with the university on a weekly basis.
“I think there might be a misperception that somehow, that there’s some parallel system that MSU is testing and running its tests and contact tracing separate than what the Health Department is doing,” said Matt Kelley, health officer for the department. “That’s not the case.”
The Gallatin City-County Health Department and Montana State University want to make a few things clear.
First, the county is dealing with MSU cases of COVID-19 exactly the same way as other cases across the area.
“Regardless of where they’re tested, their test results go to the same sorts of places anybody else's test results go,” said Michael Becker, spokesperson for Montana State University.
GCCHD is releasing the number of COVID-19 cases associated with the university on a weekly surveillance report.
“That includes all the cases that are being reported to the health department at MSU. And it breaks them down by the number of cases that are active, the number that are recovered, and the number of new cases that we’ve had since the last reporting period,” said Kelley.
“Last week it reported three active cases at MSU which are encouraging numbers and we’re happy to see them that low,” said Becker.
And while numbers appear to be low as of last week, the health department says there are lots of variables in trying to assess the situation at MSU.
“How many people have mild symptoms or no symptoms that are walking around and might be carrying the disease?” said Kelley. “Because they’re not likely to get tested, and they’re not likely to come up as a positive case. So that is a limitation. It is a limitation nationally. It’s part of what makes this virus so difficult to deal with.”
Between Sept. 10 and Sept. 17, MSU reported seven additional COVID-19 cases on campus.
You can learn more about the County’s surveillance reports here.