Some Chouteau County residents refuse to quarantine or wear masks

Posted at 6:36 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 20:36:21-05

Health officials in Chouteau County are expressing frustration after at least 10 people refused to quarantine when they were contact traced.

The Chouteau County Health Department Health Department took to social media with the warning on Monday. They said several people who have been deemed "close contacts" to people who have tested positive for the coronavirus refused to quarantine, and likely aren't wearing masks when out in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends "close contacts" quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to the virus.

Nancy Lachapelle, a registered nurse at the health department who is coordinating the county's coronavirus response, said the majority of people are following the rules, but this small group of people poses a risk to everyone else.

"The majority of the people in our county are doing the right thing," she said. "But it's a very vocal minority, and they're very vocal, that just think this is a hoax."

Lachapelle said they expected the pushback, but the situation is only becoming more dire.

"We know some of you aren't going to wear masks and we aren't going to change your mind," she said, "but please do these other things, like wash your hands, and avoid crowds and cover your cough."

The health department, County Attorney, and Sheriff would all have to agree on how to move forward if they wanted enforce the statewide mask mandate that applies to all Montana counties with four or more active cases. Many Montana sheriffs have expressed discomfort with the notion of issuing fines or arresting people for noncompliance.

As of Thursday morning, the state's coronavirus tracking map is reporting 91 active coronavirus cases in Chouteau County, with 12 new cases. The county, which is home to Fort Benton, has a little over 5,700 residents according to the latest available census data.