CCHD revises quarantine guidelines; announces four COVID-19 deaths

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance regarding quarantine periods.

Though the agency is still recommending 14-day quarantine for anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19, but on Dec. 2 gave public health agencies two acceptable alternative quarantine periods. On Dec. 3, public health officials in Montana met to discuss the new guidance and on Dec. 4, the Cascade County City-County Health Department released its new guidance.

CCHD will be implementing these new guidelines locally:

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
    • With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1percent with an upper limit of about 10 percent, according to CCHD.
  • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available (see next bullet point), then quarantine can end as early as Day 7.
    • The patient can be released from quarantine on Day 7 if:
      • a diagnostic specimen tests negative, and
      • if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.
  • This diagnostic specimen may be collected—that is, the patient may be tested—within 48 hours of the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (in anticipation of testing delays).
  • In short, in order for a patient to be released by Day 7, they can be tested as early as Day 5 of their quarantine.
  • Quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than Day 7.
    • With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 5 percent with an upper limit of 12 percent.

In both cases, additional criteria including continued symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14 are outlined in the full CDC guidelines and must be met.

This week, CCHD also announced four more COVID-19 related deaths of county residents since Nov. 30, bringing the county’s total to 82.

These individuals were three males in their 70s and one male in his 80s.

On Dec. 5, the county added 41 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s total to 5,422. Of those, 2,318 are active, according to the state map.

Statewide, the total case count is now 67,069 and of those, 16,425 are active, according to the state map.

The county’s daily average of new cases increase slightly to 100 per 100,000.

Last week, the county had reduced its daily case rate to 98 per 100,000.

The previous week, the rate was 227 per 100,000 though CCHD said it was slightly inflated due to delays in state reporting after the system updates.

Cascade County has a local health order limiting events and gatherings to 50 people or less, effective Nov. 1. In mid-November, Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive limiting events and gatherings to 25 or less where distancing couldn’t be achieved or wasn’t observed.

When the Cascade County Board of Health adopted the stricter rules, the rate was 99 per 100,000. The county restrictions remain in place until the county reaches 25 per 100,000 for four consecutive weeks.

Great Falls Public Schools returned to classrooms on Nov. 30 after going remote for two weeks.

According to GFPS, there were 54 active COVID-19 cases within the district as of Dec. 4.

CCHD is encouraging residents to follow these prevention measures:

  • Staying home when you are sick and getting tested if symptoms are consistent with COVID-19
  • Limiting interactions with others and thinking critically about the necessity of engaging in certain events/outings/gatherings
  • Social distancing wherever possible
  • Universal masking and proper mask wearing
  • Good sanitation practices and hand washing
  • Isolating if you are positive, and notifying everyone you were in contact with for 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or 48 hours prior to test date