Thanks to government-funded programs, at-home Covid-19 tests are now easier to come by. The Madison County Public Health Department recently received 1,877 two-test kits from the state which are now available at the MCPHD office in Virginia City as well as the Ennis Pharmacy and Mac’s CHC Pharmacy in Sheridan. Tests are also available at

According to MCPHD Director Emilie Sayler, the goal is to have a test kit in every county household, noting at the Feb. 1 Madison County Commissioner meeting that Omicron is spreading rapidly, albeit often with little to no symptoms and with symptoms lasting briefly. These tests, she said, are especially helpful for those that have recently had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Sayler did ask that anyone picking up a test, that’s either symptomatic or who shares a household with someone that is, should call ahead to the health department or pharmacy to set up contactless pickup.

“It’s alarming, the number of people who will come directly into the office while they are actively sick or someone in their household is sick,” Sayler told commissioners. “We want to reduce those potential exposures.”

Reporting changes on the horizon

Following advice handed down from the state health department, MCPHD will shift to online case investigation next week.

Prior to the shift, when a county resident tests positive for Covid-19, they’ll receive a call from the health department for a data collection interview. In the new scenario, covid-positive individuals will receive a link to an online survey which will go to the county health department and ultimately to the state database.

The change, said Sayler, will dramatically reduce her already overloaded staff’s phone time, clearing more time for thorough data input, and most importantly, allowing the department to focus on contacting the county’s highrisk population.

If a person doesn’t complete the online survey, the health department will still follow up via telephone.

“It seems that this is probably our best bet in transitioning from pandemic response to covid to endemic response to covid,” said Sayler. “It’s really going to help us to work this into our new normal, daily workflow.”

The more readily available home tests and updated reporting guidelines come as the state reports a pandemic record-high number of active cases to start out February. Locally, a full quarter of Madison County covid tests are coming back positive.

Sayler stated that while the county reports low active cases (just 41 as of Feb. 2), she expects that number to climb in the coming days due to a lag in at-home positive tests getting reported along with a fax machine outage over the weekend. 

COVID by the numbers


Active cases: 3,271

Cumulative cases: 193,005

Active hospitalizations: 184

New cases in 24 hours: 423

Deaths: 2,777

Montanans fully immunized: 525,292

Eligible population fully vaccinated: 51%

Madison County

Active cases:

24 Deaths: 19 Cumulative cases: 1,401


Covid in the county

J ust 32 active cases of Covid-19 were being reported in Madison County by the State of Montana’s official coronavirus tracking system on the morning of Nov. 2. It’s a number on the decline, mirroring what’s being seen across the state.


Covid in the county

F ive residents of the Tobacco Root Medical Care Center remained in isolation as of Oct. 12 in a continued outbreak directly tied to a school-related case.

Madison County Public Health Department Director Emilie Sayler presented county commissioners with this information and more at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Covid in the county

September saw a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in Madison County according to county Public Health Director Emilie Sayler who provided two weeks of virus-related data to Madison County Commissioners on Oct. 5.


Covid counts

COVID-19 cases continue to rise locally and statewide. Between Sep. 13 and 14 Madison County’s active COVID-19 cases jumped from 66 to 92, echoing the rest of the state as total active cases tallied 8,332 in the state.


Covid counts

COVID-19 cases continue to rise locally and statewide. Between Sep. 13 and 14 Madison County’s active COVID-19 cases jumped from 66 to 92, echoing the rest of the state as total active cases tallied 8,332 in the state. According to Montana State Library’s COVID-19 dashboard, which is updated weekdays between 10 a.m.


Growing pains

Madison County Commissioners have been learning a lot about the now legalized marijuana industry in the county. Their interest stems in part from concerns expressed by Shining Mountains residents who have grown weary of a medicinal marijuana grow operation in their neighborhood.


More Information

The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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