On Tuesday morning, Montana reported 120 new coronavirus cases, according to the Coronavirus Task Force update. Four of those cases involved Madison County residents.
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 https://www.covidtests.gov/.
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.
From Jan. 31-Feb. 7, Madison County reported 16 new positive coronavirus cases. In the past seven days, 122 residents were quarantined.
The majority of the 122 quarantined could be tied back to eight people, Madison County Public Health Nurse Melissa Brummell said.
On Jan. 26 the Madison County Health Department issued an order to extend the current mask mandate for all residents and businesses for 60 days in Madison County, requiring anyone in public to wear a face covering.
From Jan. 24-31, Madison County reported 12 new coronavirus cases. Three residents are currently hospitalized and one more death has been recorded, bringing the cumulative total to seven. Thirty residents are in quarantine.
Between Jan. 17-24, Madison County reported 21 new coronavirus cases. Seventy residents are currently quarantined and 29 were required to quarantine within the past seven days. Two individuals are hospitalized, one new from last week’s update.
Gov. Greg Gianforte announced on Jan. 13 new coronavirus directives for the state of Montana that are intended to be for the health and growth of the economy and the community. The new directives move more towards personal responsibility than specific mandates.
A positive COVID-19 case was reported at Madison Valley Manor (MVM) late last week.
Between Jan. 10 and Jan. 18, 56 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Madison County. Eight individuals are hospitalized, 145 in quarantine and three additional Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing the total death count related to Covid-19 during the pandemic to six.
It may not have been a holiday season full of gatherings at Madison County nursing homes, but nursing home administrators-in-training from Madison Valley Manor and Tobacco Root Mountains Care Center told the Madison County Board of Commissioners at their weekly meeting on January 5 that holiday spirits were still high.
From Jan. 3-11, Madison County reported 42 new coronavirus cases. There are 33 active cases in the county and 97 enrolled close contacts under quarantine from the past seven days. One new hospitalization was reported in the past week.