Health department issues warning amidst spike in COVID cases
The Flathead City-County Health Department office in Kalispell. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)
The Flathead City-County Health Department on Monday issued a warning that Flathead County is seeing a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases and implored folks to follow the steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Flathead County has reached a critical point in the fight against COVID-19,” says Tamalee St James Robinson, Interim Health Officer of the Flathead City-County Health Department. “We are seeing a surge of new cases and these are putting a strain on our healthcare system as well as our public health investigation team. If we as a community do not step up to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 additional control measures will need to be implemented.”
Over the past two weeks, 722 new confirmed cases were reported and over the weekend two additional COVID-19 related deaths were confirmed. The total number of deaths related to the virus in the county is now 21.
On Monday the total number of positive cases for the county was more than 1,300. There were 730 active cases in the county.
Health officials warn that capacity indicators show that the county is functioning at critical levels in four of the seven categories, including case investigation capacity, community concern and hospitalizations.
There continues to be an increase in positive cases in schools, health officials note, and contact tracing investigations show that most student transmission has occurred from activities that have occurred outside of school such as birthday parties.
“Parents, please be mindful of how you are allowing your children to spend their down time,” says Robinson. “Everyone needs to take small mitigation steps to help keep our schools open.”
The county health department is asking the community to:
• Follow COVID-19 prevention methods such as socially distancing, wearing a mask, staying home if ill and washing hands.
• Avoid interaction with those outside of you immediate family/social circle
• Do not attend large gatherings
• Utilize alternate ways of seeking services (take-out, delivery, drive thru)
• Work virtually
• Do not interact with any community members under isolation or quarantine
“We want our businesses and schools to remain open,” Robinson said. “We have to see a change in the direction COVID-19 is heading in our community. It is up to us all of us to stop the spread.”
Information about the current COVID-19 capacity in Flathead County can be found on the Flathead County Community Indicators website at https://maps.flathead.mt.gov/portal/apps/sites/#/applications/pages/flathead-county-covid-19-community-indicators.