First COVID-19 case reported in Park County

Justin Post — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, March 27, 2020
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Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick, left, speaks during a recent meeting in Livingston. (Enterprise photo by Nate Howard)

Park County reported its first case of COVID-19 Thursday evening.

The Park County resident who tested positive for the virus is at home recovering and is believed to have had minimal contact with others in the community, said Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick.

“There appears to be very few close contacts,” Desnick said.

While other counties in the state have made public the gender and age range of those who test positive for COVID-19, Desnick said Park County will not be releasing that information.

Desnick also declined to give a general description of where in Park County the person who tested positive lives.

“Our policy is going to be to provide numbers, no personal information of any kind,” she said.

With 39 cases in Gallatin County and 108 total cases in Montana at press time, Desnick said it’s no surprise that someone in Park County has tested positive.

“We’re sad that it’s here,” she said. “We had all the pieces in place to investigate quickly, make sure that the person is safe, that they have everything they need and it just reinforces the importance of social distancing and limiting interactions outside the home.”

It’s unknown whether Park County’s first positive case was contracted through travel or community spread, Desnick said. Community spread means the source of the infection can’t be traced to a known exposure and the source of the infection is unknown. 

As part of its investigation, Desnick said the Health Department will contact everyone who’s been in close contact with anyone who tests positive for the virus in this case as well as any future positive test results.

“We will be doing that with every single positive that comes along,” she said.

A spokesperson from Livingston HealthCare said the hospital had no information about the positive case.

Desnick said she spoke with the person extensively on Thursday as part of her investigation into whether any additional testing or isolation of close contacts is needed.

The first positive result comes after extensive testing of Park County residents by Livingston HealthCare, according to a Health Department news release. 

Test results are typically returned within three days. 

The number of positive results will be shared immediately in an effort to “help residents understand the occurrence of infection in our community,” the release said. 

The report from Park County came just hours after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced the state will be implementing measures for Montanans to stay at home effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday until April 10.

“Compliance with Gov. Bullock’s Stay Home Order beginning Saturday March 28 and other social distancing and hand-washing recommendations remain vitally important,” the Health Department’s news release said. 

Anyone with symptoms — including a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath — is asked to contact Livingston HealthCare at 406-222-3541, the release said.

Call the Park County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline with other questions at 406- 222-4131.

Park County, the city of Livingston, Park County Schools and Livingston Schools are coordinated to respond to support medical services, the release said.

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