Two more COVID-19 cases reported in Montana; third in Missoula

A sanitary station sits inside the door at Community Medical Center. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)

Two more cases of COVID-19 were reported in Montana on Monday night, including a third case in Missoula County, the state reported.

The latest round of testing brings the number of positive cases in the state to eight, with nearly half of them in Missoula County, making it the most heavily impacted region of Montana thus far.

The Missoula resident was described as a male in his 20s while the second patient was described as a female her 20s from Yellowstone County, according to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.

“DPHHS and the local county health departments are immediately following up to learn more details about the two individual’s exposure risk, travel history, and to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been in close contact with the patients,” the state said in its release.

The first four positive cases were identified last Thursday, including residents in Silver Bow, Broadwater, Gallatin and Yellowstone counties. Two additional cases were reported on Saturday night, both in Missoula County, one of which involved the state Commissioner of Higher Education.

The two additional cases reported Monday in Missoula and Yellowstone counties brings the total number of patients to eight, though that number is expected to grow as testing becomes more available this week.

On Monday afternoon, Missoula County officials indicated they will sign an emergency proclamation on Tuesday regarding COVID-19.

“The proclamation enables Missoula County to begin tracking expenses that the City-County Health Department and other county departments incur and submit for possible reimbursement by the federal government,” said county communications director Anne Hughes in an email. “This declaration is one step in the process of responding to the pandemic and that response efforts have not been waiting for this action.”

Also on Monday, the Missoula City-County Health Department acted to close all bars and restaurants to in-dining services.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital also implemented new restrictions on Monday by consolidating entry points and restricting in-person visits. Those requesting to see patients must arrange a phone call or video chat, outside limited exceptions.

Unlike last week, state and local public health laboratories are no longer required to send “presumptive positive” samples to the CDC for confirmation. From now on, the state said Monday, respiratory samples that test positive for the virus will be considered as such with no need for further testing.