THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

Madison County adopts Governor’s Phase Two

GRADUAL REOPENING OF MONTANA

The second phase of reopening Montana’s economy in a COVID-19 world went into effect June 1. Madison County aligned with the governor’s executive orders.

The Madison County Public Health Board did not adopt any stricter regulations than the governor’s directive but may at any time if needed. The board agreed to form a working definition of what would push the county back to Phase One or stricter regulations.

“I think the governor’s directives are strict enough,” MCPHB member Melinda Tichenor said. 

Over 50 community leaders and members joined the MCPHB meeting online or by conference call May 28. It was the first time the board met in a public meeting since Gov. Bullock issued Montana’s Phase Two Directive May 19.

The governor did not provide specifics on what would call for a return to stricter regulations. But quantifying a limit of an increase in COVID-19 cases, which would push a county back to Phase One, may not be applicable.

“In a small county it’s really hard to give a threshold,” Madison County Public Health Nurse Melissa Brummell said. “With our population size being so small a specific number or percentage doesn’t really show the whole picture.”

A 50% increase for Madison County would be four new COVID-19 cases, which is not necessarily an outbreak. More available testing could result in more potential for positive cases, which would skew the early numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Madison Valley Medical Center and Ruby Valley Medical Center are currently doing surveillance testing in nursing homes but not in the community. Madison County is conducting only viral tests, which detect current infection through a nasal swab. Madison County is testing all pre-surgery patients and symptomatic people. According to the MCPHD, about 200 nasal-pharyngeal tests have been conducted in Madison County.

The next MCPHB meeting is June 11 at 4:30 p.m. The agenda will be posted on the Madison County website prior to the public meeting, which can be attended online or conference call.

“It is important to know that just because we are moving into Phase Two,” Brummel said, “it doesn’t mean it’s the right time to throw a BBQ party. It is not a free for all.”

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