Missoula health officials reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing to five the number of active cases in the county.
Two cases were reported on Tuesday as well, including one that involved community spread. The two cases reported Wednesday remain under investigation.
The patients were identified as women, one in her 20s and another in her 30s. The two cases Tuesday were both men in their 40s.
Wednesday also saw a significant statewide jump with 18 new cases reported, including two in Flathead County and one in Ravalli County. Another death also was reported.
The number of new cases would have been notable event at the peak of the pandemic.
“We’re definitely starting to see an uptick in cases statewide,” said Cindy Farr, manager of the local pandemic response. “The state is reporting 72 active cases across Montana, and we also learned of another COVID related death, making for 20 deaths statewide.”
Local health officials said Wednesday they are continuing to monitor conditions, and they reaffirmed their authority to craft a local response plan specific to local needs.
Farr said the stay-at-home orders issued at the peak of the pandemic worked in keeping case counts down.
“While things are reopening, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 is gone,” said Farr. “We’re seeing evidence of this as case counts increase across the state. Just this week, Missoula County has had five new active cases after not having had any cases for more than four weeks.”
The lack of new cases through most of May prompted state and local health officials to begin easing restrictions. Gov. Steve Bullock entered Phase 2 of the economic reopening on June 1, and local health officials followed suit with a number of local guidelines.
Farr said health officials would continue to monitor epidemiological trends, along with supply chains, the capacity of the local healthcare system and testing ability.
“Reopening requires coordination and cooperation,” she said. “We make directives and provide guidance based upon epidemiology and local needs. Continuous assessment is just that – it’s continuous. We’re monitoring a variety of factors to see how they change across time and determine if, when and how we need to pivot and shift our response measures.”