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Health officer explains wastewater testing efforts to detect COVID-19 in Gallatin County

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 21:24:11-04

GALLATIN COUNTY — It seems like every day you get that notification on your phone confirming more positive of the coronavirus. But with more cases may come more solutions.

“The whole point of this is to find people who are infected, get them isolated, find their close contacts, get them under quarantine and limit disease spread that way,” explained Gallatin City-County Health Officer, Matt Kelley.

You’ve probably heard the term wastewater testing. And here’s how it helps us moving forward.

“Well it just informs your decision-making,” Kelley said.

It’s extra information that helps officials make the best choices for their residents.

“We’re also seeing significant detection in the wastewater. You know on Wednesday, tomorrow is going to be a pretty significant testing event in Big Sky, so we’ll be able to test more people,” he explained.

So with rising cases, you have to wonder will Montana go back to Phase 1 like other states?

“Right now, we’re kind of seeing cases come from all over the place. There isn’t like one source. So, it’s not like we can point at one thing and say if we stop doing that we can reduce the number of cases. If we get to that point, we’re going to be willing to act,” Kelley said.

But so far, we’re not at that point. Kelley goes a step further to explain what’s leading to the increase of cases.

“Our relatively low numbers over the last few months has made Montana even more sort of a tempting place to visit. But really think about who you’re inviting in your house because I’ll tell you, we are seeing cases of people who are coming into the community from other states,” he explained.

And what hasn’t contributed to the rise.

“We haven’t detected any cases from anybody that attended one of the marches. I would note quite a few people had masks on. That might have helped," he said.

You can find more data on wastewater testing by different areas in the county here.