KALISPELL — Montana has been seeing a huge spike in coronavirus cases.
Flathead County health officer Hillary Hanson says the rise in cases in the Flathead Valley can't directly be linked to an increase in testing or tourists.
However, she explained that Montanans need to stay vigilant.
"I think we're seeing people not social distance, we're seeing very little masking," said Hanson. "We're definitely getting reports as we're seeing positive cases that people were symptomatic and were still out in the community or going to work. So, that's what I see as our bigger piece right now is that really as a community we need to become more diligent in what we're doing."
Heading into the Fourth of July weekend she stresses that people need to be extra careful. She explained that the biggest increase in cases is actually coming from family events because guards are down.
"Birthday parties, family reunions, those kinds of events too. So, I think there tends to be kinda that understanding in public to follow some guidelines and then when we go on our own with our close friends and our family," she said. "We're forgetting that while we know everyone we're still around a large group of people and we may be at risk."
Hanson wants to remind people that the virus is now community spread, meaning it's being passed within the Flathead Valley and some people with the virus don't know where they got it from. For those who are visiting Montana, Hanson asks that you treat Montana like you treat your home state. Continue to social distance, wash your hands and wear your mask.
Hanson said that those COVID-19 prevention methods should be continued to keep everyone safe.
"When you're hearing about deaths to remember those are somebody's family members, those are somebody's friends that we're being diligent for," said Hanson.
And she says you don't have to do this alone. Please ask for help if you need it.
"This is really hard," she said. "And if it's hard for you and you're struggling, seek help. Don't be afraid to ask for it. Know that we are all in this together," she added.
Hanson told MTN News that the health department has been overwhelmed with calls and questions over potential coronavirus exposure.
She says if you've been exposed the department will contact you and please do not reach out to them.