COVID-19 testing limited in Butte due to lab backlog

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 12:00:53-04

BUTTE — Butte will be following the state’s mandate to only conduct testing on people showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Local health officials say national spikes in places like Florida and Texas have caused the testing labs in Colorado and Kansas to become inundated.

“Quest became overwhelmed, it’s a sheer volume problem, capacity, that resulted in tests being turned around in Montana anywhere from seven to 14 days. That turnaround time is inadequate,” said Butte Health Department Director Karen Sullivan.

Butte will only test people showing symptoms of the virus, or those that the health department found had close contact with an infected person through contact tracing.

“Unless you’ve been contacted by the health department, you need not worry about being a close contact,” said Sullivan.

Since June, Butte conducted tests on more than 1,000 asymptomatic people. Only one of those tests came back positive.

Most of Butte’s active COVID-19 cases were from people who traveled out of state or got it through direct contact with an infected person.

“And then some of our cases, five of the 19 that we’ve had recently, we don’t know how they got it, so that’s is concerning,” said Sullivan.

The health department says that everyone can do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus by following a few simple procedures.

“Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, all day, every day. Those simple public health precautions that we preach over and over,” said Sullivan.