HELENA — On Tuesday, Governor Steve Bullock released a report produced by state epidemiologists examining 377 cases of COVID-19 in Montana that helps the state understand who is impacted by the new virus, how it spreads, and patient outcomes.
The governor said the report will help the state continue to make data driven decisions to aggressively respond to COVID-19 in Montana.
“The report released today sheds light on how this virus is impacting Montanans and provides data we can use to examine what’s working to slow the spread and what our next steps should be,” Governor Bullock said. “I want to thank the public health officials who diligently track and report this information to help us understand this new virus and do everything we can to protect Montanans.”
The summary examines the rate of Montana’s new cases over time, which counties are impacted the most, who is impacted, and how the virus is spreading in Montana. The month of data summarized in the report offers early signs that measures to slow the spread including, social distancing and Governor Bullock’s stay at home order, are working.
Montana's first COVID-19 case was reported on March 11th and since then, the number of new cases has climbed to 377 cases. It took 13 days to reach 100 reported cases. After the first 100 cases, growth has remained steady and increased by another 100 cases for every 5 days. An even slower rate of growth had been detected for most recent case reports and although it's too soon to tell if this slow growth will continue, it’s could be an early indicator of the effectiveness of staying home.
The data indicates 30% of reported cases were likely acquired through travel-related exposure and 26% of cases were likely acquired in the community. While travel-related cases contributed to the majority of outbreaks early on, new cases attributed to travel are declining. Contact and cluster investigations have increasingly added to the case counts, indicating that disease control efforts through local public health staff is identifying those infected and isolating them appropriately.
Other highlights include:
- There are 28 counties with reported cases. Gallatin County reports the most cases (36%), followed by Yellowstone (15%), Flathead (9%) and Missoula (8%) Counties.
- In the last two weeks, the laboratory processed an average of 370 specimens daily, reaching an average positivity rate of about 4.5%
- While the virus can be especially dangerous for older Montanans, 20 to 29-year-olds make up 20% of cases and the second most common age group are those between 50 and 59 at 17%. The median age for all cases is 48 years of age with a range between 1-91 years of age and 50% of cases are between 31-62 years of age.
- Of Montana's total cases, 50% are male and 50% are female.
- Of 86% of cases with known race, 94.4% of persons identify as white and 3.7% as Native American. Other cases identify as 0.3% African American, 0.4% Asian, 0.3% Hispanic, 0.3% Hawaiian and 0.6% as other race.
- 169 people have recovered.
The summary includes specific information on COVID-19 in Gallatin County, which accounts for 36% of the state’s total cases. In Gallatin County, 27% of cases are considered community acquired and 20% are associated with travel outside of Montana prior to onset of symptoms.
Additionally, 13% of cases were part of five clusters occurring in different settings. These include a worksite, two office settings, and two social events that occurred prior to Governor Bullock’s Stay at Home Directive. There is no evidence that spring break or visitors to ski areas contributed significantly to the cases in Gallatin County.