Coronavirus case linked to regional EPA office in Helena

Posted at 7:02 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 21:02:49-04

Reports have linked one of the presumed positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Montana to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Helena.

On Wednesday, the national new outlet The Hill reported that an employee at the regional office had tested presumed positive for COVID-19, and that the agency was asking other employees on the same floor of the building to stay home.

The EPA office is located in the Senator Max Sieben Baucus Federal Building, on West 15th Street.

EPA Region 8 spokeswoman Laura Jenkins confirmed to The Hill in an email that the agency learned on Saturday that someone working at the federal building in Montana received the “presumed positive” diagnosis.

MTN News contacted the EPA, asking them to confirm whether any cases had been reported at the office. A spokesperson responded Thursday, saying, “To date, the agency has been notified of one employee who is presumed positive, awaiting CDC confirmation.”

“The health and safety of our employees is our top priority and that is why we have encouraged all EPA employees to telework,” the spokesperson said. “EPA is taking swift action in the event someone becomes symptomatic, or has potentially been exposed to the coronavirus.

The agency said they are encouraging employees to practice good hygiene and social distancing and to stay home if they are sick. They said they are notifying those who may have been in contact with potentially infected employees.

As of Thursday morning (March 19) there are 11 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the state of Montana. Here is the publicly-released information about them:

  • Missoula County (4): man in his 50s, woman in her 30s; man in his 20s; man in his 50s
  • Gallatin County (3): man in his 40s; man in his 20s; man in his 60s
  • Yellowstone County (2): woman in her 50s; woman in her 20s
  • Butte-Silver Bow County: man in his 50s
  • Broadwater County: man in his 50s
  • There is also a Montana woman diagnosed with COVID-19 who is a part-time Lake County resident; she is currently in Maryland with no documented exposures or close contacts in Montana, and was not tested in Montana. She was tested and diagnosed in Maryland, where she currently is residing.