Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert
Publisher 

Confirmed COVID-19 cases hit County

Businesses, schools, and others forced to adapt with first cases of COVID-19 in Phillips County

 

August 12, 2020

This sign on Jan and Greg Kirkwood's office in downtown Malta, right next to the Villa Theatre, is one of many up in Phillips County business windows posting closures or changes to hours as positive COVID-19 cases rise in the county.

After months of no positive COVID-19 virus cases in Phillips County, last week that changed when on Tuesday, August 4, the first five positive cases were reported and since then, the number has climbed to a total of 45 as of Monday morning, August 10. (Editor's Note: The total cases as of August 11 is now 52.)

The announcement was made of the first five cases by the Phillips County Health Department who have been working overtime to make sure the public is informed, surface testing is being conducted, people who have been in possible contact with people with COVID-19 have been interviewed and given instructions on how to proceed.

"The incubation period for the virus is 14 days," a Health Department press release states. "That means that someone who has been exposed to the virus is likely to get sick within 2 weeks, if at all. We hope residents of Phillips County will continue to practice good personal hygiene, and distance themselves socially to prevent the spread of the disease now that its officially here in the county."

As there are now a total of 52 cases in Phillips County, masks are mandatory in Phillips County per Montana Governor Steve Bullock's July 15 directive (children under five do not need to wear a mask at this time.) People are encouraged to stay home unless for essential trips and to maintain six feet of distance from other people. There are currently no active hospitalizations in Phillips County and none of the 45 people infected have as yet recovered.

The Montana Response website, which tracks many COVID-19 statistics in the state of Montana, only lists 28 active cases in Phillips County as of Monday and includes one person aged 0-to-9, two children ages 10-to-19, 10 adults ages 20-to-29, seven ages 30-to-39, three ages 40-to-49, three ages 50-to-59, one ages 60-to-69, and one person ages 80-to-89. (It is not yet known why the Montana Response website is so far behind the Phillips County Health Department in reporting numbers.)

The Phillips County Health Department is one of several establishments around town that are currently closed to the public.

Closures

As the news of positive COVID-19 cases in Phillips County spread last week, local businesses and organizations have been modifying their hours or closing altogether.

The Tin Cup Bar and Grill have closed their doors, but the Marian Hills Golf Course is still open for play and cart rentals.

The Phillips County Library has closed until further notice, as has the main office at Malta Public High School.

"Please check back in the next few days for information about potential rescheduling of ImPACT Testing, student scheduling, and Tours in case this becomes necessary," school officials announced. (More on school reopeing later in this story.)

The Malta Boys and Girls Club, Malta Opportunities, Inc. (aside from the laundromat), Prairie DeSign, The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, Family Matters, The Villa Theatre, Phillips County Museum, Spare Change, and The Lucky Bullet, are but some of the businesses that are closed as of Monday afternoon.

Schools

Ahead of the positive COVID-19 cases in Phillips County, all of the county's public schools were expecting to re-open under the Stage A: Low Risk as advised by the Phillips County Health Department, CDC, DPHSS, OPI, and Gov. Bullocks Office. The news of positive COVID-19 in Phillips County last Thursday coincided with a Malta Public School's school board meeting where and Plan A had to be scrapped for Plan B mid-meeting.

Stage B: Medium Risk (as outlined by the above agencies) outlines 25 safety rules including face coverings will be required during transitions throughout the school buildings and masks are required in the classrooms at the teacher's discretion. Mask will also be required on school busses and for visitors to the campus. At Malta Elementary School, students will remain in their class during the duration of the day including lunch-time and recess.

Remote learning will also be offered to Malta students as for health-related reasons, families of students may chose remote instruction and learning.

In Saco, Saco Public School had announced an Open House for parents to discuss how the school year would proceed with COVID-19 in mind, but that event has been canceled and information pertaining to the 2020-2021 school year will be mailed to parents on August 12th. After reading the information, parents are encouraged to call the school at 527-3531 with any questions or concerns.

Dodson Public Schools is planning on a public meeting for parents this week and the PCN will report the events next week.

 

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