Two Missoula County residents were confirmed Saturday to have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, marking the fifth and sixth confirmed cases in the state, the Governor’s Office announced late afternoon.
A day after reporting Montana’s first four positive cases of the virus on Friday, Gov. Steve Bullock issued a statement saying a 30 year-old female and 50 year-old male in Missoula County had tested positive.
The county has scheduled a press briefing for Sunday morning.
“All patients will be isolated or quarantined pursuant to public health guidelines,” the statement read. “Those who came into close contact with the individuals will be monitored for 14 days for fever and respiratory symptoms per CDC guidance.”
On Thursday, Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana, setting up a coordinated response to the virus while mobilizing state resources. Doing so also allows the governor to take additional steps as warranted.
On Friday, the Missoula City-County Health Department said it would not implement mandatory restrictions on public gatherings or other social events until necessary. The governor’s office didn’t say where the two Missoula County residents worked, or where they have recently traveled.
The state currently has the capacity to test just 850 individuals, though it anticipates getting more tests from the CDC as needed. Statewide, only 166 tests have been conducted and six have come back positive.
The first four cases were reported in Gallatin, Yellowstone, Lewis and Clark and Silver-Bow counties. The two cases in Missoula County brings the total number of positive tests in Montana to six.
Missoula area hospitals have taken steps to address the virus, which was expected to surface locally at some point in time. Community Medical Center on Saturday said it has implemented new policies, including visitor restrictions.
Those include one visitor in the hospital at a time, no visitors under age 17, and one care partner per patient at any time.
“These measures are in place to protect our facility and our community,” the hospital said in a statement. “Please know that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses.”
Bullock said the state lab will perform tests 7 days a week starting Monday. On Saturday, he said the state also has amended its state of emergency to better align with the federal state of emergency announced by President Donald Trump on Friday.