BOZEMAN — In a press release Thursday, the Gallatin City-County Health Department provided additional details on three cases of COVID-19 in Gallatin County that were classified as a variant strain of the virus. Based on contact tracing data associated with the cases, the following is known:
- All three cases are Gallatin county residents and live in different parts of the county;
- All three cases are under 50 years old;
- One case was hospitalized but is no longer in the hospital;
- All of the cases are recovered and have been released from isolation;
- The health department has not identified any evident connection between the three cases;
- None of the cases reported any recent travel history.
Health Officer Matt Kelley said the lack of connection between the cases and absence of travel history are indications that the variant form of the virus may be circulating widely in Montana, a fact that should not be surprising considering the variant has been detected in well over 40 other states. He said the identification of the cases should be a reminder to all Montanans why it’s important to continue taking precautions to prevent spread, including avoidance of large groups where social distancing is difficult, continued use of face coverings in public settings, staying home when sick, frequent and thorough hand washing, and getting the vaccine when available to you.
Kelley noted that the presence of the variant strain also reinforces the importance of public health rules – such as requiring the use of face coverings in public settings -- that help slow spread and protect the most vulnerable. “These measures are vitally important to protecting the thousands of Montanans who do not yet have access to the vaccine,” Kelley said.