Flathead County health officials give update on coronavirus cases

Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 20:19:11-04

Local health officials say two males tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Flathead County.

One man in his 50s and one in his 30s. Officials say that the man who is in his 50s is originally from Illinois and will not be counted towards the total number of Montana cases.

The man in his 30s is a health care provider at Kalispell Regional Medical Center and had traveled out of state, but not to a high-risk area.

He traveled in a vehicle by himself. He did not present symptoms right away, but once he did, immediately took appropriate precautions.

The hospital identified 14 patients and nine health care employees that had potential exposure. All are in self-isolation at home.

Flathead health officials want to emphasize that if you have not been contacted by a health official, you should not be concerned that you came in contact with either male.

Infectious disease doctor at Kalispell Regional Hospital Jeffrey Tjaden reminds people how important it is to follow social distancing, even if you don't feel like you have symptoms.

"While most cases of this are symptomatic, it can be spread by asymptomatic people," said Dr. Tjaden. "So, even if you're doing the right things if you're in close contact with individuals, you could potentially be exposing them or them exposing you. I think we've known that it's been in Montana, and now we do."

Dr. Doug Nelson with Kalispell Regional Hospital told MTN that earlier this week the hospital suspended all elective surgeries. While clinics in the area are not closed, Dr. Nelson says they've limited non essential appointments.

He explained to MTN that as of right now there's no evidence of person to person community transmission in the Flathead Valley.

Dr. Tjaden adds that to date over 100 tests have been administered in the Flathead Valley. There are various screening sites around the Flathead Valley.

Click here to watch Saturday's question and answer session.