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Gallatin City-County Board of Health extends public, private restrictions amid coronavirus concern

Three cases confirmed in Gallatin County out of at least 85 tested
Posted at 3:07 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 17:07:53-04

Three cases of coronavirus in Gallatin County and the ban on public gathering places could be extended.

It has been another day full of public announcements, all concerning coronavirus, across Gallatin county.

Starting with a significant update, we now have three confirmed COVID-19 cases here.

"Our testing does have challenges and I know people are frustrated,” says Cindi Spinelli, GCCHD Communicable Disease Program Manager.

As of Wednesday, three cases confirmed in Gallatin County, now including two men in their twenties.

According to Spinelli, one of those men contracted it outside of Montana in the US.

"He suspected that he had covid so he self-isolated quickly, got tested,” Spinelli says.

The other, a traveler coming home from Europe.

"They also quickly got tested and self-isolated,” Spinelli says.

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In the meantime, the health department, TSA and the Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport are following CDC protocol, tracking down those who they believe may have gotten too close.

"The health department is doing contact tracing on the people that we believe there was very limited exposure in the community,” Spinelli says.

Both Spinelli and Environmental Health Director Lori Christensen would not confirm if one of the men had been among the over 15 MSU students who traveled back from Italy last week.

As of Tuesday, they say the GCCHD has tested 85 people.

"Right now, we are only testing symptomatic people,” Spinelli says. “That's the only people that testing is appropriate for."

But the turnaround, Christensen and Spinelli add, comes down to available supplies.

"In the beginning, it was the supply of the testing kits,” Spinelli says. “Now we are looking at other supply issues so to do the test, the health care provider needs to put on the N95 mask and we know those are in limited supply."

Along with nose swaps.

And lab heads are working overtime.

As for the question, whether or not the students from Italy should have done more than self-quarantine, the health department leans on CDC regulation.

"Now is the time to take action, not when we have evidence of community spread," Christensen says.

After consideration and hearing public comment, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health decided to extend restrictions placed on public and private gatherings with the exception of licensed physical therapists.

That extension will close these locations until April 3, 2020.