Phillips County COVID-19 Updtes: Heath Dept. recomendations, Gov "stay-at-home" order and first state death
March 25, 2020
The Phillips County Health Department on Thursday night recommended that anyone who has traveled out of county to a location where more than five positive COVID-19 virus cases have been discovered should self-quarantine for 14 days.
This announcement comes hours after Montana Governor Steve Bullock's "stay-at-home" order keeping residents indoors with limited travel allowed for essential trips such as picking up groceries or seeking medical care and hours before Gov. Bullock announced the first death in Montana of a COVID-19 virus patient.
"I'm heartbroken to learn of Montana's first death due to COVID-19. Especially during these times, " Gov. Bullock said. "Montana truly is one big small town – this news hits us hard, but we're in this together. My family and I send our love and support to the family, friends, and community of our fellow Montanan."
In Phillips County, Phillips County Hospital and Family Health Clinic Interim CEO Larry Putnam told the PCN that on Monday, March 9, the hospital and clinic began preparations to screen and possibly test potential Coronavirus patients since then have given nine Coronavirus tests and all have come back negative. (Including Dodson's Deserae KillEagle who will talk about her experience in next week's PCN.)
"Two weeks ago on March 16th, for the safety of patients and employees, the hospital suspended walk-in patients to the clinic and posted signs at the front entrance. Anyone with a clinic appointment will be seen by a Medical Provider," Putnam said. "Appointments can be made over the phone by calling 654-1100. Clinic patients are being screened at the front entrance. ER and Saturday Clinic patients are also being screened.)
See more with Putnam in next week's PCN.
As of Friday morning, the Montana Response COVID-19 webpage - montana.maps.arcgis.com - lists a total of 108 cases of the COVID-19 virus in the state and seven of those people have been hospitalized. Of Montana's 56 counties, a total of 17 counties have COVID-19 cases led by Gallatin (39) and Yellowstone (20) Counties. Two counties west of Phillips County, in Hill County, a man in his 60s tested positive for the virus and has been told to remain isolated at home until fully recovered, a release said. The man more than likely acquired the virus while traveling out of state.
As of Friday morning, the United States had a total of 85,356 total cases of the COVID-19 virus and a total of 1,246 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that there have been 509,164 confirmed cases of the virus around the world in 2020 countries or territories with 23,335 confirmed deaths.
In Montana, Gov. Bullock's "shelter in place" is set to begin Saturday, March 28, at 12:01 a.m. and last until April 10. The purpose of the order is to help stop the transmission in the state of the virus that causes COVID-19. The directive includes a list of essential businesses that are permitted to remain open, the Governor's office said.
Under the directive, Montanans may leave their homes for essential activities, including:
*For health and safety. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional.
*For necessary supplies and services. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies they need to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
*For outdoor activity. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana, provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or closed terrain).
*For certain types of work. To perform work providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses or Operations or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Directive, including Minimum Basic Operations.
*To take care of others. To care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Directive.
Critical manufacturing under the Governor's orders include "Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains."
On Tuesday of last week, Gov. Bullock extended the closures of schools and dine-in food service and alcohol beverage business to April 10 and mandated social distancing measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Montana.
"Montanans have an obligation to slow the spread of this virus," Gov. Bullock said. "Our fellow Montanans can all continue to set a good example for each other in adhering to social distancing directives – and know that it will save lives. For every person who stays at home and avoids non-essential gatherings, the better our chances to fight this virus and protect our frontline health care workers and emergency responders."
The Phillips County Health Department says if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. It's important to know you should seek medical attention but CALL FIRST. If you'd like to speak with a Montana epidemiologist or public health nurse for advice regarding COVID-19, you can call the hotline number at 1-888-333-0461.
"Please know that Phillips County Health Department is working diligently with our local partners to ease the burden of our local healthcare system and provide accurate and important information to the public," the Health Department said in a statement to the public. "They follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). If you have any questions, call (406) 654-2521."