VIRGINIA CITY — Nearly 100 people attended a Madison County Commissioners ‘Special Meeting’ to discuss quarantining students who have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.
No decision was reached at the meeting on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, and the commissioners were not intending to. Instead, the morning meeting acted as a soundboard and opportunity for members of Public Health, Superintendents of Madison County School Districts, and the public to speak their minds.
On Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, according to the state of Montana, Beaverhead County reported 19 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 85 active cases. Beaverhead County has a 53 percent vaccination rate, with a total of 8,578 doses administered, 4,419 fully immunized.
Emilie Sayler, the Public Health Director for Madison County, concluded the meeting with statements regarding the upcoming Tuesday meeting and her thoughts on the current proceedings of quarantining students.
“The order of quarantine that we have for Madison County right now, was adopted of September of 2019. So this was adopted before COVID was even a concept for us,” Sayler said, “What we are here to discuss is alterations to that order, or establish something specific to COVID-19.”
The Madison County Board of Health Quarantine order is enforcing the quarantine order on school children, by reaching out to superintendents and identifying those in close proximity to an individual that tests positive. Ranging from classmates to teachers, to teammates, and club members, once identified those students go into quarantine.
A concerned citizen, father, and grandfather of two students in the Madison County school system recounted his granddaughter's recent quarantine experience.
“She’s on the Ennis Basketball team…Quarantined. My grandson does to school every day, my son goes to work, my daughter-in-law goes to work, they come home and have dinner every night…there is no sense in that,” the man said.
This raised the question and concern of quarantining students that are showing no symptoms and are appearing healthy.
Rod Stout is an Elementary School Principal, for the Sheridan Public Schools, and spoke about the social and educational aspect of keeping students at home.
“They really need to be in schools…to me, teachers need the students right in front of us because we do know that’s what’s best for them. It is a tough job, I hope that next week that maybe you can reevaluate your quarantining procedures in the county and see how we can keep those healthy kids in school,” Stout said.
A variety of topics were covered at the meeting, from masking students in schools to effects on small, local businesses, and mandated vaccines. Sayler reminded everyone that this meeting was to address the potential alterations to the quarantine order adopted by Madison County.
The meeting ended with Sayler voicing her thoughts on the matter and addressing concerns she has seen throughout the community.
“Not only do we have a problem with healthy children being at home, we also have a problem with sick kids being in schools,” Sayler said, adding: “We are running into issues with families that shared custody situations. A child getting quarantined prior to heading from one home to the next.”
Sayler continues to elaborate why she supports changes to the quarantine procedure, and that the Board of Health will meet on Tuesday, September 21st, to discuss the issue further.
There were 1,209 new COVID cases reported in Montana on Friday, September 17, with a current total of 9,545 active cases in the state, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS).
Information from DPHHS at this point does not include data on whether new cases occurred among vaccinated or unvaccinated people.
The number of Montanans who have died due to COVID is now 1,877, an increase of 12 since Thursday, according to DPHHS.
Beaverhead County is experiencing a surge of COVID cases, according to the county's health department.
Beaverhead County Public Health said on Facebook the department is "overwhelmed" and asks the public for patience as it works to conduct case investigations.
Health officials urge anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested for COVID and to stay home from work and public places until the results are confirmed.
The number of people currently hospitalized in Montana due to COVID is 361, up from 355 on Thursday. The cumulative number of hospitalizations in Montana due to the virus is 6,911.
An estimated 51% of eligible residents are now vaccinated, with 477,447 Montanans now considered fully vaccinated. If you want to get vaccinated, contact your county health department, or click here.
COUNTIES WITH THE MOST ACTIVE CASES
- Yellowstone County: 179 new; 2,329 active
- Flathead County: 146 new; 1,042 active
- Missoula County: 113 new; 1,038 active
- Cascade County: 130 new; 976 active
- Gallatin County: 107 new; 695 active
- Lewis & Clark County: 74 new; 585 active
- Lincoln County: 34 new; 359 active
- Ravalli County: 28 new; 318 active
- Lake County: 38 new; 160 active
- Custer County: 25 new; 150 active
- Silver Bow County: 44 new; 143 active
- Hill County: 24 new; 135 active
- Park County: 15 new; 135 active
- Sanders County: 40 new; 124 active
- Madison County: 17 new; 115 active
There have been 139,712 cumulative cases of COVID in Montana. The cumulative number of recoveries is now 128,290. There have been 7,928 COVID tests administered since Thursday.