Two cases of coronavirus confirmed in Flathead County

by Heidi Desch
Whitefish Pilot | March 20, 2020 4:49 PM

Two people in Flathead County have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Flathead City-County Health Department announced late Friday afternoon.

The health department received notice of the positive tests from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. One patient is a male in his 50s and is not a resident of Flathead County, and the second is a male in his 30s and is a resident of the county.

Both engaged in domestic out-of-state travel.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare on Friday also announced that one of the individuals who tested positive was a health care worker who traveled and came back to KRH.

KRH said that once it became aware that a worker was positive it immediately tested two additional individuals and contacted the health department. KRH said in a release that it did not have the results of the other test at this time.

The situation caused some KRH workers to be exposed to coronavirus, and, KRH says it now expects there could be other positive tests.

“We believe this exposure to be limited and localized, however, we intend to use an abundance of caution. We are currently doing all the surveillance, interventions and containment strategies that we have been preparing for weeks,” said KRH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Nelson. “No one wants to hear news of a new virus in their community, however, the community should be reassured that KRH has been working diligently for a long time to prepare for this.”

As of Friday afternoon there were 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Montana with just under 1,000 people being tested. In addition to Flathead, counties in Montana with confirmed cases now include Gallatin, Yellowstone, Missoula, Silver Bow, Broadwater and Roosevelt.

Heath officials are encouraging social distancing — avoiding others by staying at least 6 feet apart and staying home — to slow the spread of the disease. Folks are also asked to wash hands frequently and avoid touching their face, and regularly clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.

Those with signs of illness, in particular, are asked to remain at home and contact their healthcare provider by phone.

The health department has established an information-only hotline for the community to learn updates, which can be reached at (406) 751-8188. A website has also been established to provides guidance to the general public at https://flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/.