Reopening Gallatin County (Phase 2)
On Sunday, April 26, 2020 Phase One of Governor Bullock’s reopening of Montana began. Phase 1 expired on May 31, 2020.
- Avoid gathering in groups of more than 50 people where physical distancing is not possible.
- Groups larger than 50 people should be canceled unless physical distancing can be maintained.
- It is recommended to continue to social distance in gatherings of any size. Physical distancing guidelines for groups and gatherings do not apply to household members.
- Vulnerable individuals should continue to adhere to the stay-at-home guidance. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.
Yoga studios, cycling studios, gyms, and other fitness facilities may hold indoor group classes beginning on June 1.
- The 14-day quarantine requirement has been lifted for out-of-state travelers.
- If you are traveling, monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms, self-quarantine if sick, minimize contact with others, practice good hygiene, and maintain social distancing.
Reopening Gallatin County (Phase 1)
On Sunday, April 26, 2020 Phase One of Governor Bullock’s reopening of Montana began. Phase 1 expired on May 31, 2020.
Not at this time. The Gallatin City-County Board of Health adopted an emergency rule on May 1 and then again on May 13, which aligns with Governor Bullocks’ April 22 Directive as well as his addition to include gyms, movie theaters, and museums.
Gov. Bullock’s Stay-At-Home order was lifted on Sunday, April 26, 2020 and reopening Phase 1 began. Individuals should still only travel for essential activities (e.g. trips to grocery stores or for medical needs), should continue to practice social distancing, and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
Vulnerable populations – those over 65 and people with serious underlying health conditions should continue to follow the guidance in the Governor’s March 26, 2020 Stay-at-Home Directive.
Under Phase 1 Directive, employers can have their staff return to the office or place of business, but should continue to encourage telework where possible, and accommodate alternative work schedules – especially for those in vulnerable populations. In addition, common areas, such as break rooms where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, should be closed or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
Under Gov. Bullock’s update to his phased reopening plan, gyms will be able to operate with restrictions starting on May 15, 2020.
Generally, gymnastics, Pilates and yoga studios are not included in the Governor’s definition of a gym and will not be permitted to open in Phase 1. Phase 2 is set to begin on June 1, 2020, and will be based on up-to-date data and preparedness of public health, healthcare and supplies factors.
Yes. Stylists, artists and service-providers, and clients are recommended to wear masks when practical. Coverings are recommended by the CDC wherever social distancing of 6-feet is unattainable.
All personal care services including salons, massage, body art, and barber shops, should utilize a face mask for staff and customers whenever possible.
Patrons won’t be able sit at the bar, or host a dining experience of more than 6 people, and tables will be spaced out. If you’re planning on going out, be ready to cut the evening short as all patrons must leave bars by 11:30 p.m. Call ahead, as waiting rooms may be closed.
Customers must be served at a table, buffets and drink refills will no longer be available, and easily accessible tabletop condiments may be removed. Ask if your server may be able to offer alternatives.
Child care facilities and pre-schools will be allowed to reopen but must follow state and local guidelines regarding operational levels and occupancy. To lower the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure in a child care facility, parents should double-check their child for any symptoms relating to COVID-19 and maintain a list of possible exposures you and your child have come in contact with. If you or your child have traveled outside of Montana, your child should not go to daycare for 14 days after they’ve returned home.
Reducing the potential spread of COVID-19 from one child to the next protects everyone.
Per Governor Bullock’s Reopening plan, schools have the option to reopen after May 7, 2020. However, the decision to reopen is up to the individual school. Please reach out to your school if you’d like to know more about their plans for the future.
Yes, overnight camping opportunities were allowed to resume at most Fish, Wildlife & Parks fishing access sites and state parks starting May 1, 2020. Outdoor enthusiasts are reminded that there may be reduced amenities or limited services – especially during the normal seasonal closures until May 15 – and that social distancing guidelines must be strictly followed at all sites.
If visiting Montana from out of state, you must be under mandatory 14-day travel quarantine, which applies to campground stays and those visiting for recreational, non-work related purposes.
Visit the Custer Gallatin National Forest webpage for more updated information on campground openings and outdoor recreation.
Coronavirus 19 disease (COVID-19) & Prevention
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new respiratory disease that can spread from person-to-person. It was first identified in Wuhan, China. The virus that causes the disease, COVID-19, has been named SARS CoV 2.
There are many types of human coronaviruses. Four kinds of coronavirus circulate on a seasonal basis causing common cold symptoms. COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a new (or novel) coronavirus (SARS CoV 2) that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practices for naming of new human infectious diseases.
taken from CDC COVID-19
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Transmission is thought to occur the following ways:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.
- It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Epidemiologists and other health experts who study and track communicable disease use all sorts of graphs and images to demonstrate how diseases spread geographically and among certain populations. The phrase, “flatten the curve” has been used recently to describe the bell shaped curve that shows up on graphs when a large number of new cases of COVID-19 develop in a short amount of time.
A surge of new cases can overwhelm medical providers, supplies, treatment space, and other resources.
Working to keep new cases from developing can reduce the risk of exposure and illness rates in our community. A flatter, lower curve is a much better one – but it will take working together to make it happen.
Canceling, postponing or moving online for our work, education and recreation may be inconvenient, annoying, and disappointing. But hospitals need to have enough room, supplies, and staff to care for those who need hospital-level care — whether it’s for coronavirus, a heart attack, car crash, broken bone, or birth.
This is where “social distancing” and “shelter-at-home” come in. These are tried-and-true public health methods of disease prevention. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Social distancing means keeping a distance of 6 feet or more between you and others.
Shelter-at-home means limiting your time away from home to the essentials only (doctor visits, medicine pick-up, groceries).
- Shelter-in-place – stay home except for the essentials (doctor visits, medicine pick-up, and groceries).
- Keep a social distance of 6 feet or more between you and others.
- Let seniors and those with medical resiliency concerns shop during store hours designated for them. This allows those folks to meet their needs with reduced risk of exposure to the larger population.
- Practice healthy habits – wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, cover your cough/sneeze, and keep your environment clean.
- Take good care of yourself: yoga, walking, eating, and sleeping well…whatever makes you feel healthy is important self care.
- Keep an eye on reliable local resources and your own email. The school district, businesses, organizations, medical providers, local governments and your City-County Health Department are all working to keep you informed of closures and updates.
- Watch out for one another – neighbors watching out for neighbors can mean a phone call to check in, a friendly wave, or to shovel a sidewalk.
- Manage anxiety during the outbreak – COVID-2019 is an immense challenge. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming. Empowering yourself by putting your mental health first can help manage anxiety during the outbreak. Support those you can with facts and a friendly ear, and connect those who need it with professional resources.
- Find trusted sources that convey facts and not drama. Some of this information has been taken from the CDC’s website, particularly their pages on preparation and prevention. Your local Joint Information Center team will diligently update the City-County Health Department’s webpage and can be counted on as a reliable source of local information.
- Wear face coverings while in public. Wear a simple face covering when out in public especially when social distancing cannot be maintained such as visits to the grocery store and pharmacy. Face coverings should not be medical grade and can be made from common household materials. The CDC recommends tightly woven cotton such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets, and can even be made from a T-Shirt.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Recent studies by the CDC have shown that the virus can be transmitted before a person exhibits symptoms. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In light of this new information, the CDC recommends people wear simple cloth face coverings while in public (e.g. grocery store) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While a cloth face cover can reduce the spread of a potential sick person before they exhibit symptoms, it is not a replacement for social distancing.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The measures that you take to prevent exposure to COVID-19 are the same precautions people take for seasonal influenza.
Take steps to protect yourself and others (taken from CDC COVID-19 Protect Yourself)
1. Stay home
- Everyone, even the young and healthy, stay home to slow the spread
- Limit your trips out to the essentials (doctor visits, medicine pick up, groceries)
- If you have to go out, maintain 6 feet between yourself and others
2. Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
3. Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
4. If you need to leave the house for medical care and you are sick, wear a facemask.
- If you are sick: Call your healthcare provider before visiting your clinic. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
5. Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
- Diluting your household bleach. To make a bleach solution, mix:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water, OR
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Alcohol solutions.
- Ensure solution has at least 60% alcohol.
- Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
- Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
- The CDC has issued new guidance recommending use of cloth face coverings while in public. This does not replace the need for social distancing, which is still essential to slow the spread of COVID-19
- CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain (for example: grocery stores, pharmacies). This does not replace social distancing as a preventative measure but may add additional protections when interaction is required.
- The cloth face coverings that are recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. These are critical supplies and should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
- What should you do? Consider making your own! See the CDC’s factsheet for tips and patterns. If you are able to make a cloth face covering, or obtain one from your community, wear it anytime you are in public. Remember that this does not replace social distancing or proper hand washing.
No. There is a lot of misleading information about making homemade hand sanitizer. Some of the recipes do not provide a high enough percentage of alcohol to be effective, while others do not take into account skin protection.
Proper hand washing is still the best preventive tool. Hand sanitizers do not clean hands, and the dirtier your hands are, the less effective the hand sanitizer may be. Hand sanitizers can also be harsh on your hands, especially when made incorrectly, leading to hands that burn with subsequent hand sanitizer use.
Until better guidance is provided by CDC, make hand washing the priority or use commercially-made hand sanitizer.
Current information from the WHO and the CDC indicates that many standard household disinfectants are effective. The CDC recommends looking on disinfectant and seeing if they can “kill” SARS-like or CoV-2.
It is believed that a 60% alcohol or a bleach solution of 1/3 cups per gallon of water or 4 tsp per quart of water will work. The bleach solution should be changed daily.
Quarantine is the term used for people who may have been exposed to the disease and have not yet developed symptoms. This person is kept away from others so they don’t unknowingly infect anyone.
Isolation is the term used for people diagnosed with the disease who need to limit their contact. It keeps people infected with COVID-19 away from healthy people to prevent the sickness from spreading.
The health department will continue to monitor our community for cases and follow the guidance from other agencies regarding isolation and quarantine.
Refer to the CDC’s guidance if you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might be.
If a person believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, they should call their healthcare provider for medical advice.
The test has been designed to diagnose the illness, not to screen for it. The test will not be not accurate unless you have symptoms.
Not at this time. Vaccine research is currently underway.
The quarantine for travelers arriving in Montana was part of Gov. Steve Bullock’s previous stay-at-home directive and expired May 31, 2020.
You may hear it called a serosurvey or a serology test. The test looks for certain things called antibodies in your blood. Your body makes these when it fights an infection, like COVID-19. The same thing happens when you get a vaccine, like a flu shot. That’s how you develop immunity to a virus.
The antibody test isn’t checking for the virus itself. Instead, it looks to see whether your immune system — your body’s defense against illness — has responded to the infection.
Currently the State of Montana is monitoring the available options for antibody testing. At this time they are looking for an antibody test that doesn’t give false readings, also known as cross reactivity. Once the State is more confident in the reliability and results of the available tests it looks forward to using it. (Source: Governor Bullock Press Conference 4/29/2020 (minute 18:30)
Antibody tests can show how common COVID-19 is.
- Once scientists know who has had the virus, they can find out how sick it makes most people. And they can study what happens if people who’ve had it are exposed to it again.
The key strategies for stopping the disease are still the same ones experts have been promoting from the beginning: Wash hands, clean and disinfect surfaces, social distancing, testing, contact tracing, isolating for those who test positive for COVID-19, and social distancing and best hygiene practices for everyone else.
Public health officials must make decisions today based on the most current information available – the number of individuals currently infected. While the information provided by an antibody test will help health officials develop strategies for keeping communities safe, it is not a tool for returning to “normal.”
There is no solid evidence to suggest at this point that having been infected with COVID-19 and presenting antibodies in a test means you are immune to future infection.
There are many types of coronaviruses – for many of those that we have studied for years, some of which cause the common cold – most of which infer only short-term immunity that wanes quickly, which is why people often yet the common cold year after year.
Even if it turns out that a person has some immunity, it’s unclear whether it would last weeks, months or even into the next flu season. More research is needed.