When reading this graph, start from left to right and bottom to top. For example, on March 11, 100% of cases were associated with travel. On March 20, 30% of cases were attributed to community transmission and 70% to travel. PHOTO COURTESY OF PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE 406, MONTANA COMMUNICABLE DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGY

Gov. Bullock releases analysis of COVID-19 cases

The Governor’s Office released an interim analysis of COVID-19 cases as of April 10. “It sheds light on who this virus impacts, how it spreads and patient outcomes,” Gov. Steve Bullock said during a press call. The data will be used to inform decisions going forward.

The analysis was prepared by state epidemiologists and examines 377 cases that were diagnosed as of April 10. Overall, growth of the coronavirus in Montana has been slow and does not appear to be exponential. The average positivity rate is approximately 4.5%. 20-29-year-old adults account for 20% of cases.

Gallatin, Missoula, Flathead and Yellowstone counties account for two thirds of total cases. One third of cases in Gallatin, Missoula and Yellowstone counties are attributed to community transmission, which results in higher case counts in these areas. Contact and household contact related cases attribute to some of the new cases in those four counties. Cluster activity is present in Gallatin and Yellowstone counties.

Other counties, not including the four, were initially breeched by travel related transmission, then contact, then cluster. Little community transmission has been demonstrated.

Travel accounted for the majority of early cases, but new travel cases are declining. Thirty percent of cases were acquired through travel and 26% through community transmission. 

One in six cases are attributed to contact cases. Five counties report widespread community transmission, the majority being in Gallatin and Yellowstone counties. Transmission information is unavailable for new cases under investigation.

Gallatin County, demonstrating the highest number of cases in the state, acquired 27% of cases through community transmission and 20% are associated with travel. Thirteen percent of cases were attributed to five clusters that include a worksite, two different office settings and two events that occurred before the Stay at Home Directive issued by Gov. Bullock. 

A number of cases were reported in college students and tourists, but spring break and visitors to ski resorts do not appear to have contributed significantly to numbers.

The Stay at Home Directive remains in place until April 24. Gov. Bullock said an expiration date does not seem sensible when everything is still in flux. “We can’t just flip the switch,” he said. Decisions will continue to be made in two-week increments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) set six conditions on April 15 for ending a coronavirus stay at home directive or lockdown: disease transmission must be under control, health systems are able to ‘detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact,’ hot spot risks must be minimized in high-risk areas, essential places (schools, restaurants) must establish preventative measures before reopening, new cases are able to be managed and communities are prepared to live in a ‘new normal.

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