A recap of what’s happened in Jefferson County since the March 25 issue of The Monitor.
Gov. Bullock extends closures, restrictions
Gov. Steve Bullock extended the end date of his previously ordered closures and restrictions from March 27 to April 10.
In the order, Bullock said school districts will not need “to reschedule in-person pupil-instruction time lost because of the closure” if district boards would attest that schools had “made up the lost pupil-instruction time through remote learning, provided for meals for students, provided for services to students with disabilities, and provided other services customarily provided to students in school.”
First confirmed COVID-19 case in Jefferson County
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jefferson County — a man in his 50s — was announced yesterday.
“The person has been notified and the investigation is initiated,” states a post to the Jefferson County Health Department Facebook page.
The man contracted the disease in Montana and was not hospitalized, Jefferson County Public Health Supervisor Karen Wandel said by email this morning.
Where the man resides in Jefferson County is being withheld to protect his privacy.
“While the county has about 12K [people], the individual communities are small,” Wandel wrote. “We are limited to what we can share information wise. Patient privacy is of importance in times like these.”
The man was the first of 12 county residents known to have been tested for COVID-19 to test positive, but Wandel wrote that other residents might have been tested.
“It’s likely that several more have been tested through clinics or urgent care settings outside Jefferson County that we are unaware of,” she explained. “Each county health department has worked with the healthcare providers in their county to set up a system of reporting who they have tested that day in their clinic/hospital. However, the demographic data (county of residence) is not always included in that reporting to the county.”
Counties can hold all-mail election, expand early voting
Gov. Steve Bullock authorized Montana counties to allow voting by mail and early voting for the 2020 June primary election. In-person voting would still be allowed, even for people who received a mail ballot, and counties would have to “establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies at polling locations, designated drop-off locations, or other public-facing portions of facilities involved in voting.”
“This will help a lot,” Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Bonnie Ramey said by email. “A mail ballot election ensures the safety of our voters and election judges and will provide the opportunity for a good voter turnout. Voters will receive their ballots in the mail and do not have to worry about being exposed to the virus while trying to vote.”
Boulder ratifies three COVID-19 measures
During a special meeting, Boulder City Council unanimously approved three resolutions related to the threat of the novel coronavirus: the declaration of an emergency, the restriction of access to city offices and buildings, and a temporary leave and remote work policy for city employees. All councilors attended the meeting over the phone to practice social distancing; only Mayor Rusty Giulio, City Clerk Ellen Harne and The Monitor attended in person.
Gov. Bullock issues stay-at-home order
Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive that Montanas “stay at home or at their place of residence to the greatest extent possible,” listing a number of exceptions including leaving to replenish supplies, enjoy outdoor activities and perform work considered “essential.” The order would go into effect 12:01 a.m. March 28.
The directive also prohibited large gatherings where social distancing of at least six feet could not be maintained and closed non-essential businesses and other entities, including libraries.
Second confirmed COVID-19 case in Jefferson County
A woman in her 40s was announced as the second Jefferson County resident to be confirmed as infected with COVID-19. Jefferson County Public Health Supervisor Karen Wandel said by email that the woman was not hospitalized and her travel history was not yet known.
Debris burning closed until ‘at least’ April 10
The Jefferson County Fire Council closed debris burning effective 11:59 p.m. tonight through “at least” April 10, according to a post to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. The ban would not apply to fires under 48 inches in size, such as campfires.
“Debris burning is one of the leading causes of fire response calls in the spring,” the post explained. “By closing debris burning, the Council hopes to reduce the occurrence of close contact among our volunteers which is required during response operations. Additionally, debris burning activities such as saw work can lead to injuries that require medical resources that are already thinly stretched.”
JHS to deliver meals to students’ homes
Jefferson High School announced it would start home delivery of breakfasts and lunches meals to interested students beginning March 31.
Supplies trickle into Jefferson County; more needed
At the third weekly meeting of the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center, held to apprise various departments of its COVID-19 planning and response, Doug Dodge, director of the county’s disaster and emergency services, said supplies from a national stockpile had started arriving at county agencies.
“The supplies are [so far] very minimal,” Dodge said by email. “Today we got a few boxes of N95 masks, some surgical masks, and one box of gloves. The requests are centered around those items, for the most part, but agencies are needing much, much more than what is being delivered.”