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GFPS superintendent Tom Moore provides update on COVID

Posted at 10:58 AM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 12:58:34-04

A letter signed by Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore and addressed to the citizens of Great Falls popped up in the inboxes of media members on Wednesday morning. In the letter, Moore says that the main focus of GFPS is keeping schools open for in-person learning, and he urges members of the community to take steps to keep themselves and each other safe during this pandemic, so that schools and businesses can remain open.

Moore provided the following seven points of advice that he wants people to follow (these are directly quoted from Moore’s letter):

  • Regardless of whether you believe it or not, wear a mask when you have to go into public spaces out of respect and care for others. Anything short of that is pure selfishness and arrogance.
  • Limit the frequency and duration of your interaction with others (including family and friends) during evenings, weekends and non-work/school time, especially during this peak time of COVID spread.
  • Self-impose restrictions on your own family, business or industry to keep your family, employees, and patrons safe, for the time being. Enforce and regulate the wearing of masks in your businesses. Most people will comply, some may leave…. However, you are doing your part and it is better than a complete shutdown or total loss of business.
  • Get creative with contact-free and COVID-safe ways to deliver goods and services- market and advertise your new way of safely doing business. Surprisingly, many people may choose to patronize your establishment over a competitor who is non-compliant.
  • Make sure you are doing everything you can to physically distance patrons, sanitize your work place and homes, improve air circulation/filtration, and limit interactions to less than 15-minute intervals.
  • Encourage others to; wash hands frequently, cover your cough/sneeze, wear your masks, and don’t touch your face or mouth. If you are sick, stay home please, do not go out and about!
  • Pray to God daily for protection, healing and blessing for our sick and be thankful for those who are caring for them!

“My approach or my encouragement to our folks is let’s self-impose restrictions and limitations on ourselves to slow the spread of COVID so that our healthcare providers can take care of people who are sick and not doing well,” Moore said when asked why he felt that this letter was necessary. “When we start talking about restrictions and narrowing things and limiting, it’s going to affect people in different ways. By nature in Montana, we like to be able to go and do the things that we like to go and do. As human beings we don’t like to be told what to do very much, and in Montana we’re kind of that way.”

Moore also talked about his and other district officials’ responsibility to keep schools open and kids and teachers safe. The letter was sent out prior to the Cascade County Board of Health’s decision to tighten some existing COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday evening, something that Moore was hoping did not have to happen.

As of October 28, he said that the Great Falls Public School district has a total of 280 students and faculty in quarantine. According to the GFPS Facebook page, there are 48 active COVID-19 cases in the district as of October 28. Friday marks the end of Quarter One for GFPS, and while they have gotten through the first part of the school year without having to contemplate a district-wide shutdown, Moore said that if new COVID-19 cases continue to rise exponentially around the county and the state, the discussion may have to be considered.

“We’ll take it on a building by building basis, unless, as a community, we look at the widespread COVID positive cases in our schools across the entire district and we decide that closing the entire district for a period of time is warranted,” Moore explained. “But that will be a collective decision that we make with our health officials and a task force group that we’ve already identified.”

There were 632 new cases and 20 new deaths added to the total on the Montana COVID-19 tracking site on Wednesday morning. The data below is from the official Montana website on October 28:

  • TOTAL CASES & RECOVERIES: There have been 29,966 cumulative cases, with 19,519 people now listed as recovered.
  • HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 374 current hospitalizations, and a cumulative total of 1,298 hospitalizations.
  • DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths in Montana is now 325.
  • ACTIVE CASES: There are currently 10,122 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
  • TESTING: There were 3,148 completed tests, for a new cumulative state-wide total of 484,470.

Numbers reported by the state each day occasionally differ from those reported by county public health departments due to periodic lag times in reporting data to the state.

It's important to note that not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others, however, do require hospitalization, as noted in the daily update on the number of people hospitalized. However, every person who tests positive for COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to other people, including family members and friends, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public.

The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released data in late August which emphasizes that people with contributing or underlying medical conditions are at much greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Click here to read more. The CDC also recently released an update to their research into fatality rates associated with COVID-19. A summary of COVID-19 survival rates is shown below; the summary is one of five based on several scenarios. The CDC data and scenarios can be found here.

COVID-19 Survival Rates

  • Age 0-19: 99.997%
  • Age 20-49: 99.98%
  • Age 50-69: 99.5%
  • Age 70+: 94.6%

The CDC says the scenarios are intended to advance public health preparedness and planning, and are not predictions or estimates of the expected impact of COVID-19. The parameter values in each scenario will be updated and augmented over time, as the agency learns more about the epidemiology of COVID-19. The update from September 10th is based on data received by the CDC through August 8.