BOZEMAN –Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley addressed the six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 detected this past week at a June 4 press conference. Of the new cases detected since May 27, five are located in West Yellowstone and Kelley said there is no immediate concern of an ongoing health problem within the community. The cases were all detected through contact tracing efforts.
The health department is currently managing 11 active cases and Kelley noted that the number of cases is changing fast by the minute. Wastewater testing is underway in West Yellowstone, Big Sky and Bozeman and will begin in Three Forks soon. Results in West Yellowstone are comparable to the positive cases they detected, but Bozeman and Big Sky have not yielded measurable results during this period of testing. While wastewater testing does not indicate how many people are carrying the virus, the data establishes an important baseline for health officials.
“In some ways this is not surprising. We expected to see more cases as we worked to ease certain restrictions on businesses,” said Kelly. “As we have reopened, as more people have come together, in restaurants, workplaces, bars, gyms and other venues, we are creating more opportunity for the virus to spread. It is reasonable to expect this trend to continue as we see Yellowstone National Park reopen and more people come to the county from all over the nation.”
Although the new number of cases is worrisome, Kelley said “We have a lot of fight left in us before reclosing anything,” and that efforts are focused on identifying cases and limiting spread right now.
Kelley also addressed the recent civil rights protests and the risks large gatherings pose during a pandemic. The health department has been working with Sheriff Gootkin to ensure the community is able to exercise their first amendment rights while also limiting close contact with one another.
“I would ask everybody to take care of each other, to be kind and to use the occasion as a moment of unity rather than moment of division,” said Kelley. “That means those who are marching taking care of each other, that means police watching out for demonstrators, that means demonstrators watching out for police. I’d like to see our community be able to do this in a peaceful way in away that makes us better and stronger.”
At the time of publication, Gallatin County had a cumulative total of 163 cases. There are 11 confirmed active cases. There have been a total of 149 people recovered in Gallatin County and one death. This data is updated daily at healthygallatin.org.