Governor Steve Bullock appeared in a press call with State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman and Chief of the DPHHS Communicable Disease Bureau Jim Murphy discussed the recent COVID 19 outbreaks in eastern Montana.

“As we enter into Phase 2 we recognize that there were 40 new cases last week,” said Governor Bullock. “We have 22 new cases in Bighorn County, 12 active in Yellowstone County and that’s the vast majority of active cases in our state.”

Bullock said there was some good news with the two outbreaks.

“I want to underscore that for every positive case we have right now in Montana, there’s not one case in the state where we haven’t been able to identify where that positive transmission came from,” he said.
State Health Officer Dr. Greg Holzman explained more about the two outbreaks.

“As Governor Bullock mentioned we are seeing increased cases in two clusters, one in Bighorn and one in Yellowstone County,” said Dr. Holzman. “At this point in time we are still in the investigation stage, but all the cases have been connected in these two individual clusters. We’re not seeing community spread at this point in time in either place, but we want to continue to get in front of it with our contact tracing to make sure that the outbreak does not get larger.”

As much as many are concerned about incoming tourists who may have the coronavirus, Chief of the DPHHS Communicable Disease Bureau Jim Murphy is more concerned about Montana citizens who travel.

“The area that we actually start to think about is that as people become more mobile, it’s actually Montanans going to visit other places and then coming back to Montana and resuming their regular life as they do,” said Murphy. “That’s where you can get some big spread, too. All of us need to be aware of the new normal, of how to minimize your risk and also minimize the risk to the people around you.”

Bullock said the two new outbreaks do not give him pause for initiating Phase 2 for the entire state, stating that local health officials have the option to keep restrictions in place if they deem the action necessary.

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