On July 1, the day after the Teton County Health Department received the first notice of COVID-19 cases in the county, TCHD issued a press release announcing that two additional Teton County residents have tested positive for the viral disease, bringing the tally to five.
"The new cases, as well as the ones identified yesterday, are part of a cluster stemming from a large gathering in June," said the release.
TCHD is continuing to contact the individuals who test positive and having them and any individuals whom they have had close, recent contact with to isolate and quarantine.
"There is potential for community spread," the health department warns. "We recommend high-risk populations stay home. Teton County Public Health is asking all residents to please exercise precautions to protect yourself, your family and your community. Keep six feet of distance from others, wear cloth face coverings, wash your hands, sanitize surfaces and please avoid gathering with non-household members."
Benefis Teton Medical Center has multiple avenues for testing for COVID-19. Those who want to be tested are asked to call in before they arrive, to allow clinic or emergency room staff to prepare and prevent any potential spread of disease.
“Based on your symptoms and potential exposure, you will be directed on to where to go,” explained BTMC Chief Operating Officer Susan Murphy. “This could be outside or inside. We are making these decisions on a case-by-case basis and are working diligently to prevent spread while people are on site.”
Patients who have a referral for testing from TCHD or by an outside medical provider should call the hospital line at 466-5763 to make an appointment. Those who do not have a referral for testing should call the clinic at 466-6085.
The BTMC clinic will be closed on July 3 and 4 for the holiday. The emergency room remains open 24/7 as usual, but individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and those who have had direct contact with positive cases should still call ahead at the hospital line, 466-5763. The receptionist will give the caller further instructions on where to go to get tested.
“There’s a big surge in the state right now for testing,” said Annie Olson, BTMC’s public relations coordinator. “Most tests will take about five to seven days before we have results.”
When on the hospital campus, there are strict health guidelines in place. Keeping six feet of social distance is essential everywhere, but especially at the hospital. “If you have a mask, please wear it at all times while on our campus,” added Murphy. “Hand sanitizer is provided throughout the building — please use it often. Our policy is to gel-in and gel-out upon entering and exiting any room. Please do the same. Hand sanitizers are the black dispensers throughout the building.”
After being tested, individuals should continue to self-quarantine. Most COVID-19 patients are able to fully recover at home, but if respiratory or fever symptoms worsen, patients should call the clinic or hospital again. Those who potentially have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic should still stay home and isolate for 14 days.
In Fairfield, Frontier Family Practice has announced that they are doing curbside COVID-19 testing for already established patients.
"We are currently planning on testing between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, starting July 7. We need to be done testing by 11 a.m. to ensure transportation to the state lab," read the clinic's Facebook post on July 2. The clinic staff appreciates the use of masks when inside the building.
Established patients of Frontier Family Practice can arrange for a curbside test by calling 467-3447. Those with symptoms are asked to self-quarantine until they receive their test results. Those having trouble breathing should seek medical care immediately.
Frontier Family Practice will be closed for the holidy July 3-6 and will resume normal business hours on July 7.
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, there are 389 active cases of COVID-19 in the state and 14 people are in the hospital. COVID-19 has killed 22 Montanans and sickened 1,083. There have been 672 people to recover so far.