Seeing ‘rapid widespread transmission of the disease’
GALLATIN CITY-COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BOZEMAN – With Halloween and Thanksgiving approaching and the winter ahead, the Gallatin City-County Health Department is asking the community to think carefully about the activities they participate in and the risks they may pose to themselves and others.
“We need people to stay home,” said Health Officer Matt Kelley at an Oct. 30 press conference. “We need people to cancel events that are not essential. This is about taking care of those you care about and those you love. The decisions you make now may have you come down with this disease a week or two from now and I want people to think about what they’re bringing home for the holidays.”
As of Friday, Oct. 30, Gallatin County has 138 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, for a cumulative total of 3,339. There are 594 confirmed active cases and 15 current hospitalizations. The Health Department also announced that the eighth Gallatin County resident has passed away from complications due to COVID-19. The person was a woman in her 90s who was a resident of a long-term care facility and died at home last week. This death is in addition to the 364 total statewide deaths reported by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services—27 of those were confirmed today alone.
Now, as they receive about 100 new confirmed cases per day, county contact tracers are finding it difficult to keep up with their efforts. Although testing capacity is holding steady, there are a few instances where tests have been taking up to three days to process.
“In general, we’re reaching a point now where we’re not keeping up with contact tracing and the cases just keep coming,” Kelley said. “That does have an impact on hospitals and I’m concerned that it will have a continuing impact on hospitals in the future.”
Hospital capacity at Bozeman Health and Big Sky Medical Center combined is at 80 percent for critical care beds and 90 percent for non-critical care beds. Neighboring counties—Missoula and Yellowstone—recently implemented restrictions to curb the spread of the virus and help alleviate pressure on hospitals. Kelley said that no decisions have been made for Gallatin County yet, but that those options are still on the table, “… especially if we can’t get these numbers under control soon,” he said.
“Right now, I want to focus on this coming weekend,” Kelley said. “We’ve never had more cases, we’ve never had more people in the hospital, and … we’re heading into a long winter.”