MISSOULA — The Missoula City-County Health Department reported 32 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Monday.
Thirty of those cases have been identified through laboratory testing, but two of them are what health officials consider "epi-linked."
COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr provided a breakdown for the different terminology they use when looking at confirmed cases.
Cases that are epi-linked developed symptoms while in quarantine.
Those patients were in quarantine because they’d been identified as a close contact to someone who tested laboratory positive for COVID-19.
Case classification is an age-old practice that works well for considering someone a positive case without actually testing them.
Because testing resources are tight right now, health officials are taking advantage of this method.
“For those of you who might be worried that this might hinder our public health response, or that it means that there's less follow through, don't worry, it doesn't,” said Farr.
“The biggest hurdle is identifying the cases so that we can have that person isolate, but that still happens with epi-linked cases, so as far as exposure or risk to public health, there isn't an increase."
The state health department’s website only lists the laboratory confirmed cases, so if comparing Missoula County’s report to the state’s report, you will notice some discrepancy.