Montana Public Radio

Karen Sullivan

As Montana Prepares To Reopen, State Lacks Local COVID-19 Testing Data

Apr 24, 2020
Two Bozeman Health employees help a patient learn how to self-sample at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Bozeman.
Ryan Berry / Bozeman Daily Chronicle

As Gov. Steve Bullock moves to roll back emergency measures enacted to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, he has said he’ll take a data-driven approach to reopening Montana’s economy while minimizing the risk of a second-surge outbreak.

State officials are keeping a close eye on the number of laboratory-confirmed cases. However, they aren’t tracking the number of Montanans who’ve been tested in each county, a metric national experts say is important to fully understand how the outbreak is playing out in different parts of the state.

Doctors walking through a hospital hallway.
iStock

Butte-Silver Bow County health officials recommend local health care facilities, including hospitals, clinics and long-term health facilities temporarily restrict visitation.

It’s not an uncommon decision for facilities to make independently, especially during peak flu season. But given the expanding novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 event, local health leaders opted to officially recommend visitor restrictions.

Suicide rates rose across the U.S. from 1999 to 2016.
Centers for Disease Control

The suicide rate in Montana is more than twice the national average, that’s according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the counties with the highest suicide rate in Montana is Butte/Silver Bow. Karen Sullivan is the Health Officer for Butte Silver Bow. MTPR's Beau Baker spoke with Sullivan about why suicide rates are so high in Montana.