UPDATE: Two Men Diagnosed With COVID-19 in Flathead County; One Works For Kalispell Regional Healthcare

First cases of coronavirus detected in Northwest Montana; both individuals recently engaged in domestic, out-of-state travel

By Justin Franz
Kalispell Regional Healthcare braces for the arrival of novel coronavirus as seen on the afternoon of March 18, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Updated: Friday, March 20, 5:52 p.m.

One of the two people who tested positive for coronavirus in Flathead County works for Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

The two diagnoses that were announced on Friday afternoon are the first in Northwest Montana and bring the state’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases to 19.

One of the men is in his 50s but is not from Flathead County. The other is in his 30s and is a local resident. Both men had recently engaged in domestic out-of-state travel.

The Flathead City-County Health Department announced at 4:30 p.m. that local officials learned of the diagnoses from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

An hour later, KRH sent out a press release announcing that one of the cases was a health care worker who had recently traveled out of state and then worked at the hospital. Because of that “some of the KRH family (was) exposed to COVID19 and, as such, we expect there could be other positives.” The hospital has tested a number of individuals but the results of those tests have not come back.

“We believe this exposure to be limited and localized, however, we intend to use an abundance of caution. We are currently doing all the surveillance, interventions and containment strategies that we have been preparing for weeks,” says KRH Chief Medical Officer Doug Nelson, M.D. “No one wants to hear news of a new virus in their community, however, the community should be reassured that KRH has been working diligently for a long time to prepare for this.”

Officials have said that no additional information would be available until Saturday morning at a virtual press conference with reporters.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available

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