Montana reported 1,101 new coronavirus cases as of 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force report. Twelve cases new cases were reported in Madison County, bringing active cases to 63.
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 Oct. 27-Nov. 2, Madison County confirmed 44 new coronavirus cases. Four residents are hospitalized and 132 are in quarantine.
From Oct. 20-Oct. 26, Madison County confirmed 27 new coronavirus cases. One Madison County resident is currently hospitalized, and 112 residents are in quarantine, up seven from last week.
Madison County confirmed 10 new COVID-19 cases in two days, Oct. 18-19. The county has 18 active cases as of Oct. 19.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services shares weekly updates of Montana’s public schools on coronavirus activity. Madison County had 14 active COVID-19 cases, with three residents being hospitalized because of their COVID-related illnesses as of Oct. 13.
Madison County has 12 active COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 6.
At least 111 people were quarantined in Madison County due being in close contact with positive COVID-19 cases, as of Sept. 29.
Madison County’s COVID-19 case rate continues to flatten as the state’s rate increases.
Madison County’s COVID-19 cases are starting to level as Montana COVID-19 cases climbed to 9,244 on Sept. 15.
A former employee at the Tobacco Root Mountains Care Center in Sheridan tested positive for COVID-19 Sept. 3.