Hill County Health Officer Warns of New Restrictions in November if COVID-19 Case Growth Continues

UPDATE: Hill County reported 31 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and one COVID-19 related death.

18 of the cases were found through contact tracing, 12 have unknown exposures and one is travel-related.

Hill County has now reported 505 total COVID-19 cases. 208 are active, including eight hospitalizations. 284 have recovered and 13 have died.

 

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – The Hill County Health Board met virtually on Friday afternoon to provide their weekly COVID-19 update as cases and deaths continue to mount.

Health Director/Officer Kim Larson says 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the county have been confirmed since the start of October.

“This is really a public health emergency we are dealing with at this time,” Larson said. “We are in a pretty dire situation in Hill County. ”

Currently, well over 400 people are in quarantine after being identified as close contacts and over 200 people have active COVID-19 cases.

For the week beginning October 5th, Hill County averaged 115.26 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people.

In light of this, Larson has created a Control Measure Plan with steps her Department will take if the rate of new case numbers does not drop significantly by the end of the month.

The baseline Larson has set is a total of 50 new cases per day per 100,000 people. This is roughly equivalent to 58 new cases in Hill County over the span of a week.

Steps that will be taken if Hill County is not under the threshold for the week from October 26th-November 1st (schools and school activities and sports will not be included in the order):

  • Social gatherings will be limited to no more than 25 people, regardless of the ability to social distance
  • Restaurants/Bars/Distilleries/Breweries/Casinos will be limited to 50 percent capacity

The first possible date of implementation of this order is November 4th at 5 PM.

The restrictions would last for one month and could be extended if cases continue to stay above the threshold. Further restrictions could also be implemented if cases do not decrease.

A draft order will be issued on October 26th to allow people to prepare for possible implementation.

Larson says she is giving several weeks notice before new restrictions could be implemented to allow the chance for the community to flatten the curve by following guidelines and health measures.

“Whether or not we implement new restrictions is entirely up to our community members if we start doing the simple public health measures that we know work to help slow the spread. We all know that COVID is not going to go away 100 percent, but we do need to slow it down so our hospitals and public health system and our businesses can keep up and stay open and serve our communities the way they need to do.”

Other notes from the meeting:

  • Of the 12 total COVID-19 related deaths in Hill County as of Friday morning, six were residents of Northern Montana Care Center
  • Hill County has not reported any influenza cases this fall
  • There are no mass testing events scheduled or in the works in the near future
  • Some people are still not complying with contact tracing, and Larson is asking contact tracers for information on specific difficulties they need to address

A copy of the Health Officer recommendations can be found here.

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