March 21 COVID-19 update: 3 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cascade County; WIC offices close to public; CCHD shares additional guidance about gathering restrictions; Symphony reschedules Jubilee concert

On March 21, Cascade City-County Health Department received notice via the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services that Cascade County has three positive tests for COVID-19.

  • One is a male in his 50s, who recently engaged in international travel
  • One is a female in her 50s, who recently engaged in international travel
  • One is a female in her 20s, who recently engaged in international travel

All three individuals are isolated at their homes and have been taking every precaution to minimize spread, according to CCHD.

“We knew that Cascade County would eventually have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and we have been diligently planning a long time for this,” Trisha Gardner, county health officer, said in a release. “We know that community exposure is limited and localized. Even though we understand no one wants to hear that a new virus has shown up in our County, residents should rest assured that CCHD and our partner agencies will act out of an abundance of caution.”

CCHD is holding a press conference the morning of March 22 to further discuss the local cases.

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services there are now 30 cases of COVID-19 across the state. One of those cases is counted in Montana though the woman was tested and remains in Maryland.

A state tracking map shows the confirmed cases are as follows by county:

  • Cascade County: 3 cases
  • Madison County: 1 case
  • Flathead County: 2 case
  • Gallatin County: 7 cases
  • Silver Bow County: 1 case
  • Yellowstone County: 5 cases
  • Ravalli County: 1 case
  • Broadwater County: 1 case
  • Missoula County: 4 cases
  • Lewis and Clark County: 3 cases
  • Roosevelt County: 1 case
  • Lake County: 1 case

WIC offices close

The Cascade County City-County Health Department has closed the WIC office to the public.

Residents with current appointments scheduled will be contacted by WIC clinic staff the day before the appointment to confirm whether it’s in person or over the phone, according to CCHD.

Clients will continue to receive and be able to use benefits as long as their certification is active, according to CCHD.

Contact the local WIC clinic at Cascade City-County Health Department by phone at 454-6950 or the state office at 1-800-433-4298 for assistance. The state office will also be available by email at montanawicprogram@mt.gov.

Questions about business restrictions under the health officer’s order

Many people have questions about the measures being taken in our community to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

CCHD has a page with regular updates here: www.cchdmt.org/2020/02/coronavirus-covid-19-facts/

The county health officer’s order restricting bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and more is available here.

Additional guidance from CCHD on the order and recommendations for other public gatherings is available here.

For order violation complaints, or to seek guidance for your business, email CCHD and they’ll respond as soon as they’re able: health@cascadecountymt.gov

CCHD will also be taking phone calls at 406-454-6950 on March 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

United Way

The following is from United Way:

Local nonprofits, health care providers and agencies are stepping up to provide community resources to help people impacted by the COVID-19 virus and the precautionary closures.
United Way Community Resources

United Way of Cascade County is working to coordinate local government and nonprofit resources to streamline community efforts to help our neighbors and make resources easily accessible to individuals and families in need.

The community help resource line 2-1-1 connects people to specific local resources – including food, housing, energy assistance, child care and more — that fit their needs. The website www.montana211.org includes statewide resources that can be searched by county.

Calling the 2-1-1 line will help free medical and emergency responders to address immediate health needs. The call line also has professionals trained to help people who are feeling anxious or depressed.

People with medical needs or health questions should call one of four local health care helplines.

United Way also is reaching out to local nonprofits and updating its website with information about how to get local available services and reach those agencies.

United Way of Cascade County created a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to support local nonprofits who are seeing an increased need.

“The United Way board saw the urgent need to help service providers ramp up their capacity in this quickly changing crisis,” United Way President Gary Owen said.

The United Way board transferred $10,000 from its emergency reserves to respond to the increased community need. Owen hopes to raise $50,000 in the next week to respond to emergent needs, including the increased need for food, rental support, energy assistance and help for the homeless.

One hundred percent of donations will be allocated to support service organizations as they address ongoing and new needs within our community. And United Way will cover credit card service fees for all online donations.

“We will track all donations and be transparent in reporting that donations are used appropriately to address the most urgent needs of working families who need help during this time,” Owen said.

Anyone who wants to donate to the fund can go to www.uwccmt.org or can send money to P.O. Box 1343, Great Falls, 59403.

Several nonprofits are seeing increased need for their services, but have seen regular community drives canceled due to shuttered offices and social distancing practices. Other nonprofits rely on senior volunteers who are staying home as a precaution.

United Way is also posting volunteer needs on its http://www.volunteergreatfalls.org/ website for people who are healthy and able to give their time.

There are multiple community resources available if you have flu-like symptoms and feel you need to be seen by a doctor. Call before you come in. All the agencies below have helplines set up to do initial screenings and give further instruction:
Benefis Health System: (406) 455-2500
Great Falls Clinic: (406) 454-7275
Alluvion Health: (406) 454-6973
Cascade City-County Health Department: (406) 454-6950

Great Falls Symphony

The Great Falls Symphony has rescheduled the Jubilee concert, celebrating 60 years with the Symphonic Choir, to May 10 at 3 p.m.

The concert was originally planned for March 28.

All tickets will be honored for the new date, according to the symphony.