Lewis and Clark County sets criteria to advance to phase two of re-opening

Posted at 6:00 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 20:00:50-04

HELENA -- After a little over a week of being in phase one of Governor Bullock's "Reopening the Big Sky" plan, Lewis and Clark County Public Health set criteria to determine, when Governor Bullocks allows the state to enter phase two, if the county can proceed into phase two.

The guidelines include available testing resources, the ability of the health department, hospitals and medical providers to manage COVID-19 cases without disrupting standard business procedures, and the number of cases, specifically how the cases originated and what trend the case sets.

Though no official date for phase two has been set, Drenda Niemann, Health Officer for Lewis and Clark County, said before the county considers moving into phase two, phase one must be successful which includes participation from all residents.

"It comes down to that personal responsibility at this point, because we are reopening our community, which means that all of our public health messages right now, matter," said Niemann via Zoom. "Six-foot physical distance matters. Staying away from those large group gatherings, that matters. Making sure you have good hand hygiene right now, that matters. Sanitizing your surfaces really good, all of these things matter more than ever."

As for moving forward in the phased reopening, Niemann said with the incremental openings of churches, restaurants and many other places where people can gather, Lewis and Clark County needs time to examine all of the data to make an informed decision before moving forward.

"These are steps within phase one. Which means we do need to give it time to see what happens in the community. What we know about the virus is that it incubates for anywhere between two and 14 days, and so a couple of weeks as things reopen, we have to wait and see," said Niemann.