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Butte-Silver Bow health officials believe they are doing enough to keep community safe

Posted at 12:28 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 14:28:27-04

BUTTE — Now more than ever, health department officials across the Treasure State are doubling down on their contact tracing methods to ensure the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases remains under control.

But as Butte-Silver Bow health officer Karen Sullivan told MTN, a lot of time is taken to put people at ease who may be fearful over the rise in COVID cases.

“A lot of our work every day is taking phone calls and educating people, we don’t think you need to be worried," said Sullivan. "We don’t think you need to be concerned and we talk through that with people.”

The recent rise in cases also has many wondering what else could be done to ensure the public is safe.

States who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic like Florida, Arizona and New York will often release the whereabouts of a positive COVID case to the public.

Sullivan says they feel strong enough in their contact tracing efforts that only the close contacts of a positive COVID case need to know.

“If you hear from the health department you’re a close contact. If you don’t hear from the health department then carry on with your life,” Sullivan says.

The current reporting standards under normal circumstances only require the Butte-Silver Bow health department to list the age range and gender of a confirmed case.

But Sullivan says more information can be released if there is a compelling reason.

“If I felt there was a public health rationale and a danger to the wider public you would be hearing more information from me," she adds.

Sullivan says that to this date, that compelling rationale has not existed, so reporting standards will remain the same in the county. She strongly backs that the efforts from her and her staff have kept the community safe. So much so that if there was a disparity between her reporting standards and the community's health that proved malfeasance, she would take the blame for it all.

“If I felt for a moment that my lack of information provision was harming this community, I’d look for another job,” she concludes.