Fallon County had been untouched by a pandemic which has claimed the lives of more than 130,000 Americans – until Friday, July 10.
The Fallon County Department of Health announced on its Facebook page that it has recorded one positive COVID-19 result. The positive is for a man between the ages of 30 to 39 years old.
“Every effort is being made to protect our citizens at this time, as this is something the COVID-19 Task Force, Fallon County Health Department and Fallon Medical Complex have been preparing for the last few months. Contact tracing will begin and the Health Department will call you if we feel as though you have potential exposure. The name of the patient will not be released to the public. We urge the citizens of Fallon County to follow the guidelines, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. As always, stay healthy and safe.
“We have contacted all individuals that are close contacts of the infected individual. If you have not been contacted and are concerned, you can always get a surveillance test done. Give us a call at 406-778-2824.
“Please note, due to high call volume and hours, there may be a delay in returning calls but we will get back to you,” the health department posted on Facebook.
The change in status for Fallon County has occurred as the Treasure State goes through a dramatic increase in the number of residents testing positive and even dying from the Coronavirus.
As of Wednesday, July 15, the state had 2,096 confirmed cases, with 145 listed as new.
The Fallon County total of one case is dwarfed by its neighbor to the west, Custer County, which has 38 cases.
To the north, Dawson County has a total of eight positive cases (all have recovered), while Roosevelt County has 15 positives and Wibaux County has one positive.
In the eastern Montana region, only Carter, Powder River, Prairie, and McCone counties are still on the list of zero positive cases.
Montana cases surge
Most of the reported cases have been in the counties with large population clusters, with Yellowstone County having nearly 500 cumulative positives. Billings is the largest city in the county.
Gallatin County is close behind with 403 cumulative positive cases, as of Sunday’s announcement from the state’s Department of Health.
Missoula County has had 124 cases while Big Horn County has 115 cumulative positive cases as of July 12.
In active positive cases, Yellowstone County is still the hot spot in the state with 312 active, while Gallatin County has 163 and Big Horn County has 47.
According to the state statistics released Sunday online, the state has had 29 people die.
After testing more than 114,000 people in the state, 128 people have been hospitalized with 26 still in the hospital. The state reported 864 active cases and 865 who have recovered.
Nine of the reported 29 deaths have occurred in Yellowstone County, while Big Horn County has had four and Gallatin County has one fatality.
After having an early high of 35 cases reported in late March, the number dropped in April, May and early June.
The state set a new record for positives on June 28, hitting 56, but by July 1, it was broken again with 67 reported cases.
By July 6, the state had a new record of 80 cases, jumping to 96 just two days later.
On July 9, the state shattered the century mark with 125 cases.
According to the state’s health department, there is a recommendation people wear masks. “At this time, wearing a mask is strongly recommended in public settings. The CDC also recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. However, county authorities can impose more restrictive local measures than are outlined in the Governor’s directives.
“With widespread testing and testing of close-contact cases (contact tracing), we expect to see new cases. As the Governor stated in this June 11 press conference, these cases serve as a reminder that we cannot get complacent and that if unchecked, this virus can spread quickly and quietly. In Montana, local and tribal public health are working carefully to perform contact tracing to get exposed individuals into quarantine and eliminate chains of transmission to keep the virus under control,” the state agency posted online.