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Gallatin health department addresses shelter-in-place, Bozeman COVID-19 cases

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By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BOZEMAN – On March 27, The Gallatin City-County Health Department and Bozeman Health partnered to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in the Gallatin County following Gov. Steve Bullock’s announcement of a statewide shelter-in-place order.

The order requires residents to stay at home as much as possible except for essential activities such as movement necessary for health and safety, seeking medical care, picking up prescriptions and limiting trips to the grocery store to once a week. “Essential” employees may also report to their respective jobs.

The health department’s Health Officer Matt Kelley was joined by Chief Nursing Officer Vickie Groeneweg at Bozeman Health to communicate the importance of following the governor’s directive in order to give healthcare workers on the frontline the best possible chance of fighting COVID-19.

“All over our state, healthcare workers and emergency personnel are sacrificing to serve us all,” Kelley said. “My request to you all who are watching are to think about those men and women who are going to work every day, sacrificing for us. Please make the sacrifice for them so we can slow the spread of this disease and buy time for those working so hard.”

Groeneweg confirmed that a healthcare worker at Bozeman Health has tested positive for COVID-19 and assured that strict protocols are in place to mitigate sick workers as early as possible and that they are in the process of contacting individuals who may have been in contact with the healthcare worker who tested positive.

“At Bozeman Health, we are committed to three mission-critical priorities: to keep staff safe and healthy, to keep our patients safe and healthy, and to keep our community safe and healthy,” Groeneweg said. She noted that heightened protocols at the hospital include visitor restrictions, temporary suspension of nonessential medical services, temperature and symptoms screening at every hospital entrance and adherence to proper PPE protocol.

Kelley estimates that half of the cases in the county are from travel and half are from community transmission. The health department will not communicate where cases are in the county and are focusing their efforts on providing only information that will keep community members safe and healthy.

While Gallatin County has the highest number of cases in the state, Kelley reminded people to look past the number and instead at the energy and vigor of citizens as characteristics we can use as a resource of fighting this pandemic together.

“Gallatin County is a crossroads and destination,” Kelley said. “We’re home to a diverse economy and growing university. We have natural beauty and attractions and I think those things help create the character of our community. While some of those factors are probably also contributing to the number of cases we have, I think it’s important that we also recognize that those factors provide enormous sources of talent and energy and community assets that help us to respond collectively to this challenge.”

Kelley assured that the health department and Bozeman Health are working alongside emergency personnel, including law enforcement, firefighters and elected officials to keep the community informed and safe as cases increase in the county.

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