The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

County official discusses protocol for positive test


There are currently seven active cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County.

Molly Carey of the Jefferson County Health Department recently described the process officials follow after the notification of a positive COVID-19 test.

After a county resident receives a positive result, she said the JCHD is notified and a nurse begins the investigation by contacting the positive case to educate them about isolation requirements as well as additional education support.

According to Carey, follow-up monitoring involves daily contact with a health nurse. The positive case identifies individuals he/she had contact with during the period when he/she is contagious.

"The nurse then notifies each person identified as a close contact. The close contact is placed in quarantine for fourteen days and is contacted by a nurse every day or every other day as needed," she said

The positive case then receives an isolation order, and close contacts receive a quarantine order.

Carey said before anyone is released from isolation/quarantine, a nurse will conduct a final review of the situation.

She added once the nurse determines that it is safe to lift the order, each person receives a release order.

The JCHD reported the initial investigation with the positive case takes a minimum of five hours, each close contact investigation takes approximately thirty minutes, follow-up monitoring for close contacts takes approximately fifteen minutes per call and required documentation takes approximately thirty minutes per person.

During the time period of July 7 and 16, there were 14 positive cases in Jefferson County. During this time the JCHD identified, notified, and quarantined over 70 close contacts.

"Also during that time, the Health Department staff had to maintain their daily duties and responsibilities. One part-time temporary nurse has been called in to assist with follow-up monitoring," Carey said. "Our department has risen to the challenge; however, we have come to realize that we will have limitations in providing quality healthcare in the event of another surge. We appreciate the support we have received thus far and look forward to our continued interactions with the residents of Jefferson County."


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