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Butte-Silver Bow confirms two new COVID-19 cases Tuesday
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Butte-Silver Bow confirms two new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

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Butte-Silver Bow officials confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in the county Tuesday.

The new cases involve a woman in her 20s and a male in his 50s. Both are isolated at their homes, and the health department is contacting individuals who’ve had close contact with the two cases.

The new numbers bring the county’s total to 20 cases. Nine cases are currently active.

Health Officer Karen Sullivan said department investigators believe the woman in her 20s contracted the virus through travel. She said the individual’s close contacts have been notified and tested and are currently in quarantine awaiting results.

An investigation into the county’s 20th case is still under way, but department investigators believe the individual may have contracted the virus through work outside the county.

Meanwhile, the department continues to investigate the county’s 18th case involving a man in his 20s. Health officials have followed up with the individual’s close contacts, and they are in quarantine awaiting test results.

“In addition to investigating new cases and managing active cases, the Health Department is discussing ways to keep Butte-Silver Bow under Phase II guidelines,” Sullivan said, referring to Gov. Steve Bullock’s phased reopening plan for the state.

Montana is currently in Phase II. On Tuesday, the state again set a record high for the number of coronavirus cases added in a single day, with 80 new cases.

“What will it take to keep Butte-Silver Bow in Phase II?” Sullivan asked rhetorically. “Is that a universal mask order involving wearing masks in all public places? Is that a strong encouragement of mask-wearing? Is that encouragement of physical distancing in all places, or something stronger?”

Sullivan said her department is developing metrics to guide its decision-making on these matters.

The department has not yet declared community spread of COVID-19 in Butte-Silver Bow.

Sullivan said community spread may be one metric that would lead to a universal mask order, and that decision-making would involve input from the Board of Health.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 community-wide testing for asymptomatic individuals continues this week at the Butte Plaza Mall, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 9.

Those with symptoms are asked to call and seek testing at Southwest Montana Community Health Center, 445 Centennial Ave. in Butte.

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

More severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and bluish lips or face. Those with these more severe symptoms are asked to seek emergency medical care immediately.

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Kristine de Leon is a reporter for the Montana Standard, her focus in on natural resource stories.

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