Flathead County Reports Evidence of Community Spread

Local health officials have documented six cases of COVID-19 in which individuals had no known source of infection

By Tristan Scott
The Montana National Guard began screening arriving passengers for symptoms of COVID-19 at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell on April 3, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead City-County Health Department officials on Tuesday confirmed six cases of COVID-19 in which the individuals had no known source of infection, marking the first evidence of community spread in the area.

“Within the last few days we have received six cases where we cannot find any known contact or exposure with a positive case or related to travel,” according to a prepared statement by Hillary Hanson, the department’s health officer. “These cases indicate that there is evidence of community transmission in Flathead County.”

The additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Flathead County on April 6, bringing the county’s total to 31 cases. Unlike the first 25 confirmed cases in the county, the six people confirmed to have COVID-19 had no known travel history, exposure to someone who traveled or exposure to known COVID-19 cases, the department said.

The health department’s communicable disease team has been in touch with all of the individuals and is conducting contact investigations to minimize additional transmissions, Hanson said.

All patients have been isolated, and those who had close contacts with the patients have been quarantined.

The Flathead now joins several other large Montana counties that have documented community transmissions, including Missoula, Yellowstone and Gallatin.

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