County has highest number of COVID-19 cases so far

Sam Klomhaus – Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, October 12, 2020

Park County had its highest weekend increase in COVID-19 cases so far during the pandemic this past weekend, according to Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick, and now has its highest number of active cases to date.

The state reported 11 new COVID-19 cases in Park County Saturday, four new cases Sunday and two new cases Monday, and is reporting 43 active cases, out of 155 total cases, but no deaths so far attributed to COVID-19.

The new cases are largely contacts of people who tested positive, Desnick said Monday, but there have also been some new positive cases that are unrelated to known positive cases. 

“Almost all the spread is from people we know, and trust, and spend a lot of time with. This seems to be one place where we tend to let our guard down,” Desnick said in a Friday video update.

Some of the cases have been severe, although Livingston HealthCare is not in the danger zone for running out of beds, she said Monday.

“People are sick. These are not asymptomatic positives,” Desnick said Monday.

Desnick said Friday Park County’s new case counts are really high for a county this size. Most of the cases as of Friday were tied to five clusters, which include two workplaces, a few bars and a recent social gathering.

Desnick said in the Friday video update Park County has not put any new restrictions in place in response to the rise in cases.

“The recommendations we have in place will work if we simply follow them,” she said in the video. “Stop going to businesses where masks aren’t required and events where social distancing can’t be maintained. Don’t go to work sick. Limit the number of people you interact with outside of your family.”

The Health Department is adding contact tracers and focusing testing on people with symptoms and their known contacts, Desnick said.

There have been some new positive cases among elderly people, Desnick said, but the virus has yet to appear in Park County’s assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The Livingston School District said in a press release Monday there were three positive COVID-19 cases detected among district staff and students over the weekend.

A district staff member, who had limited contact with students, is in quarantine and contact tracing has taken place. There are some staff members and students who will have to quarantine as a result, the release said.

A student at Winans Elementary and a student at Sleeping Giant Middle School also tested positive, the release said, but both students were not in school during the contagious period prior to infection. 

Both students are in quarantine, and no other students or district staff were found to be close contacts of the infected students, the release said.

“It’s getting a little too close for comfort into the school crowd,” Desnick said.

The Park County Health Department posted on Facebook Friday attendees of a National Rifle Association event Oct. 3 in Big Timber may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Testing for those who attended the event will be available 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday at 105 W. Lewis St. in Livingston.

With flu season starting, more people are developing COVID-like symptoms, which is frustrating because there’s no way to tell which disease a person may have without a test, Desnick said.

In Montana Monday, 7,432 active cases were reported in Montana, out of 19,125 total cases. There have been 212 deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19.