Health Department considers face-mask order

Health Department considers face-mask order

The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department is considering a mandatory face-mask order after announcing Sunday that the county has two new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The county Board of Health will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday to begin discussion about issuing a board rule and a health officer’s order related to mandatory use of masks or face coverings in all public indoor settings in the county.

A decision on the issue will likely come early the following week, the Health Department said.

The department says the two new cases involve a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 40s. Both are isolated at home.

The new cases bring to a total of 25 cases overall in Butte-Silver Bow since the county was notified by the state of its first case March 13. The Health Department is now managing 14 active cases.

Butte-Silver Bow Health Officer Karen Sullivan said the female in her 40s had been identified as a close contact to a confirmed case in another county. The woman self-quarantined after being notified she was a close contact. Sullivan said because of that, the woman has no identified close contacts.

The Health Department has not been able to determine how the female in her 70s contracted the virus. All close contacts in this case have been followed up with by the Health Department, and they have been tested and quarantined.

Beginning March 13 and through March 28, Butte-Silver Bow saw 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county held steady at that number until late June, when additional confirmed cases were reported.

Of the 14 cases that have been confirmed since late June, the Health Department has not been able to determine how three of those individuals acquired the virus; Sullivan said department investigators therefore assume the virus in those cases was community-acquired.

Sullivan urges all county residents to be tested. Butte’s drive-through testing continues Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Butte Plaza Mall.

The community-wide testing is offered to individuals who are asymptomatic. Those with symptoms are asked to seek testing at Southwest Montana Community Health Center. Those with severe symptoms are asked to seek emergency medical care immediately.

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