March 25 COVID-19 updates: Two more cases confirmed in Cascade County; Malmstrom raises health protection level; airport operating normally, TSA Pre-check canceled; GFPS teacher parade; city mapping office closed to public; state up to 65 cases
Two additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Cascade County tonight, bringing the county’s total to five cases.
One is a male in his 30s, and one is a male in his 50s, according to Cascade City-County Health Department.
“CCHD’s infectious disease team is actively communicating with each individual and we are conducting contact investigations. In these investigations, we’ll identify others who may have been exposed and confidentially get them the information they need,” according to CCHD.
Both patients have been isolated at home since being tested and do not require hospitalization at this time.
In a video update, Trisha Gardner, county health officer said, based on trends elsewhere, “we can expect to see more.”
She said that Montana has now seen several cases associated with what’s called ‘community spread,’ meaning it isn’t totally clear where a person picked up the infection, but it wasn’t from travel or close contacts. She said where ever community spread occurs, infection rates pick up quickly.
Gardner said the community must do what it can to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The most effective way to slow the spread is stringent social distancing, Gardner said.
Staying home, staying farther away from others when you’re out, staying home especially when sick, calling healthcare providers first, frequent disinfecting and hand washing, etc.
Malmstrom Air Force Base
Malmstrom Air Force Base has raised its Health Protection Condition level to Charlie.
According to a message that went out to base residents tonight, personnel should “Continue telework operations. Continue minimum manning procedures, maintain social distancing measures, be prepared for additional closures on base.”
According to a post from the 341st Security Forces Group, the Child Development Center and Youth Center will close at end of day March 26.
The base raised its health protection level from Alpha plus to Bravo on March 20.
The Elkhorn Dining Facility will be take-out only and the Visitor Control Center will be the only place to get base passes. The center will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On March 25, Defense Secretary Mark Esper increased health protection measures at all defense installations to Charlie, according to a Stars and Stripes report.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, said Wednesday that the curve isn’t flattening among military members, according to the Stars and Stripes report.
“To try to control the growing rate of cases, the Pentagon has ordered all military installations to Health Protection Condition Charlie, Friedrichs said, which includes restrictions on large gatherings and temperature checks for personnel at building access points,” according to Stars and Stripes.
The Electric emailed base public affairs tonight to get more information and expects more to be release tomorrow.
GFPS teacher parade
At 3 p.m. March 26, GFPS staff will be driving around the community in their own school neighborhoods honking, waving and ringing cowbells to greet their students.
The staff will meet in their own parking lots to gather at 2:45 p.m. and exchange maps for the route that is planned, according to GFPS.
Many students are making posters as a greeting to their teachers as they stand on the driveway waving to the cars.
March 24 COVID-19 updates: School closures, dine-in restrictions extended to April 10; Catholic schools closed through May 4; election updates; county landfill changes; changes to GFPD operations, city animal shelter; GF Clinic now accepting homemade masks;
GFPS Elementary staff will be driving through each school’s attendance zone to see students. It will be a parade of cars. Below is how it will work:
- At 3 p.m., staff will leave the school’s parking lot. They will attempt to drive down every street in their attendance zone.
- The teachers will not be stopping to talk or give hugs. They will just be honking their horns and waving. We encourage all students to stay in their own driveway (social distancing). We do not want to create large gatherings of students.
- As of now, the weather is forecasted to cooperate. If something changes, we will reschedule.
- Teachers and staff will be wearing their school shirts. Students are welcome to wear theirs as well.
City GIS/Mapping office closed to public
Until further notice, the City of Great Falls GIS/Mapping office (Room 8) is closing its doors to the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic except by appointment. Staff will continue basic operations such as updating land use changes and issuing addresses from home. All map printing services will be suspended at this time. If any Customers have a critical need for any mapping services (including map printing), schedule an appointment with Aaron or Tessa, contact information below. All mapping service related requests should be directed to:
Aaron Vaughn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 406-455-8486
Tessa Switzer, email@example.com,406-455-8437
GFPD Citizens Academy
The spring session of the Great Falls Police Department Citizens Academy has been canceled. Applicants from this academy will take priority for the fall academy, which begins Aug. 27. For more information, contact Master Police Officer Otis Dilley at 406-455-8523.
Water Treatment Plant closed to public
In an attempt to protect the public and City employees from the COVID-19 virus, the Water Treatment Plant is closed to the public. For those needing water sample processing, a sample pick-up/drop-off basket and payment drop box have been placed in the entryway of the offices on Upper River Road (Filter Building). Note: A receipt of payment will be included with your final report, but the city won’t issue results until the analysis fee of $24 is received. Unless you have a city billable account, the fee is payable by cash or check made out to the City of Great Falls or the Great Falls Water Treatment Plant.
Total cases in Montana
According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services there are now 65 cases of COVID-19 across the state. One of those cases is counted in Montana though the woman was tested and remains in Maryland.
So far, according to DPHHS, a total of 2,193 tests have been completed.
A state tracking map shows the confirmed cases are as follows by county:
- Cascade County: 3 cases
- Gallatin County: 24 cases
- Yellowstone County: 12 cases
- Missoula County: 6 cases
- Flathead County: 5 cases
- Silver Bow County: 4 cases
- Lewis and Clark County: 3 cases
- Madison County: 2 case
- Broadwater County: 2 case
- Ravalli County: 1 case
- Roosevelt County: 1 case
- Lake County: 1 case
- Hill County: 1 case
- Jefferson County: 1 case
TSA Pre-Check event canceled, airport updates
Due to social distancing concerns associated with the COVID-19 virus, the TSA Pre✓® enrollment event scheduled for March 30 to April 3 has been canceled at the Great Falls International Airport.
Airport staff are working with the vendor to schedule a future date.
Daily flights continue to operate at Great Falls International Airport, but airlines are consolidating and cancelling flights on a daily basis as a result of decreasing demand. Schedule reductions for most airline will also go into effect over the next three weeks and may impact some existing reservations. In April, airlines have eliminated more than one-third of our normal flights in advance.
It is important that passengers stay in contact with their airline due to the fluidity of schedule changes. Two important ways to stay informed are:
- Make sure your mobile phone number is included in your reservation and that you have enabled text messages and,
- Download the airline app to your phone. You will receive important information about flight updates.
Most airlines have liberalized their ticket change policies and details are changing daily. Check your respective airline’s website for the latest details on changing a ticket. Airlines are also offering great discounts on future travel so now is a great time to shop for travel and viewing ticket change policies prior to booking will help inform your decision if your travel plans must change.
The Airport Authority has stepped up cleaning of hard surfaces in the building and is reminding all passengers to practice good hygiene. Health screenings are currently only being conducted at a few of the largest airports in the U.S. Passengers that are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, tiredness or trouble breathing are asked to use discretion and not fly.
“Travel demand has dropped by about 75 percent on a daily basis. Commercial flights provide an essential link, especially in small communities, and supply communities with medical supplies and personnel. Military deployments are returning on commercial flights and families are repositioning to take care of members that need assistance,” according to the airport release.