Participants in the community testing effort followed the signs for a streamlined process that minimized risk for healthcare workers and residents. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

Assessing COVID in the community


A steady stream of vehicles made way through the Big Sky Medical Center parking lot recently, as nearly 700 people from the Big Sky community were tested to see if they were asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. Demonstrating the importance of this kind of testing: a study just released by the Office of National Statistics in the U.K. found that 78% of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms when they were swabbed. Of those people, some later developed symptoms and others remained asymptomatic.

All participants in the Big Sky study stayed in their vehicles as hospital employees performed administrative, traffic control and testing duties.

“It definitely made my eyes water. It wasn’t comfortable, but it didn’t hurt,” Big Sky resident Nicole Harkness said, and noted that the process went pretty quickly.

The effort was generated by a partnership with the Big Sky Resort Area District, Big Sky Medical Center, Gallatin City-County Health Department and the state of Montana.

“It is our understanding that the data from the specimens collected at the surveillance testing event will be used to help determine prevalence of COVID-19 in the Big Sky community,” Lauren Brindle, system director of market and communications with Bozeman Health said. She further noted the information will help identify asymptomatic individuals confirmed positive for COVID-19 – to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

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