HAMILTON — Ravalli County health authorities say all of the new coronavirus cases this week are part of what's known as a cluster outbreak, where the positive test results are related to travel and not community transmission.
Ravalli County had been relatively fortunate during the pandemic, with just five reported cases during the height of the coronavirus shutdown. But that number more than doubled since the weekend, all because of this outbreak.
The county says the seven new cases are all related, as well as an initial eighth case that had been reported over the weekend. In addition to quarantining those cases, the county is also tracking contacts with 30 additional people. But they stress this spike in cases isn't because of what's called community transmission, where the virus is passing randomly.
"The people that have been identified as positive are in isolation," Ravalli County information officer Dixie Dies said. "The rest of the people that we have for contact tracing are in quarantine. And we haven't received any other tests back. I don't there's any more pending that we're waiting on. But the contact tracing is underway and so far, so good with that."
Because of patient privacy laws, the county can't give further details on specifically where this outbreak occurred.
With the spike, Ravalli County now has the most active cases of any county in Montana. However, the health department said they don't see a need to change any of the current precautions because of the virus.
County health officials are urging Bitterroot residents to continue to take precautions, namely social distancing, wearing masks in public and washing hands.
"We're learning together and we need to stay together and support each other," Dies said. "But like we've said all along, no time is the time to let your guard down. And to keep up your practices that got us where we were to begin with."