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Mont. County has 6 cases of COVID-19

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Montgomery County now has six positive COVID-19 virus cases as of Thursday morning.

Representatives from the Montgomery County Public Health Department, along with County Executive Matt Ossenfort gave an update on the COVID-19 outbreak in a Facebook live video on Tuesday, stating a fourth person had tested positive for the virus.

By Thursday morning, the public health department sent a release stating that there are now six confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and 96 individuals under public health quarantine and are being monitored daily.

“Most importantly this is our first case where there is no clear connection to another case,” Ossenfort said of the fourth confirmed case. “This means it was likely community spread. No one is immune and you might have it and not display symptoms, and could pass it to someone else. It is here.”

Montgomery County Assistant Public Health Director Jessica Marotta said anyone who has been in close contact with those who tested positive have been notified, and anyone who has been in close contact is being quarantined which means they are required to stay home and monitored.

As for testing, Marotta said test kits are being prioritized to those who are very ill and require hospitalization, as well as health care providers who are on the frontline taking care of those who are sick.

“I do caution you not to underestimate this virus and its presence in our community. It is in our community and we need to do everything we can to keep it from spreading and overwhelming our healthcare system,” Marotta said. “We do appreciate everyone’s efforts to try to minimize the impact of this virus, so if you can, please stay home.”

Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko said the health department is prepared to protect residents from the fast spread of COVID-19, and although there is a shortage of testing kits, there have a number of individuals who have been tested.

“We would not have the number of quarantines that we have in the county if folks weren’t being tested,” Boerenko said. “When this started two weeks ago, we had a number of test kits available to us, but unfortunately because of the high usage of those at the beginning of this several weeks ago, those text kits were used. Therefore, we know that testing produces higher numbers, but we also know that we have tested people and we also have only gotten four positives from those tests.”

That number is now up to six positives.

Boerenko said they don’t have the capacity as they did two weeks ago the number to produce the number of tested patients as they did.

Regarding supplies including masks, gloves and gowns, which there has been a shortage of, Ossenfort said they’re doing “okay.”

Moving forward, Ossenfort said he does not see this pandemic ending anytime soon, and may have to extend the State of Emergency that is suppose to end at the end of March.

However, as the virus continues to spread, and as it reaches the peak, Ossenfort said he doesn’t think there will be any lockdowns.

“I think the message is going to be very consistent moving forward, if you do not have to leave for any absolute necessities, don’t,” Ossenfort said. “I don’t see any big changes other than what we’re seeing now.”

Ossenfort urged residents to follow guidance from state and local government officials.

“Most importantly we need to hang in there, we are tough people, we’re resilient people in Montgomery County, we’ve been through tough times before and just like in the past we will come out the other side stronger together,” he said.

Whether schools will extend their closure or not, Ossenfort said that decision is not up to him. He said that would be the school districts’ decision.

Ossenfort said, however, the apex in the state is 14 to 21 days away. Meaning the state will not reach its peak in positive cases until 14 to 21 days from now, and Montgomery County may be a week behind that curve.

He said expect to see closures continue.

“Every family, every group of friends, whatever it may be, your support system create a plan, be prepared,” Ossenfort added. “Plan for the long haul and hope for the best.”

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