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HARDIN, Mont. - Big Horn County confirmed 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Of the newly-confirmed cases, county health officials say 14 patients were tested as a result of contact with previously-confirmed positive patients and seven likely contracted the virus through community spread. Nine patients were asymptomatic when tested and 12 patients reportedly presented with symptoms.

According to Rhonda Johnson, the public information officer for Big Horn County, some of the positive cases recently reported by the county include inmates in the Big Horn County Detention Facility. Johnson says monthly sentinel surveillance testing began in the facility in May and all inmates were tested. Johnson says the testing effort was suspended earlier this month after the State of Montana requested a slowdown in asymptomatic, non-close contact testing to allow laboratories to catch up. However, according to Johnson, "a routine testing found a few inmates in the jail, and public health, after conferring with the Governor’s Office, decided to test all inmates willing to be tested."

Johnson says the detention facility has been following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for incarcerated individuals, which includes requiring masks when inmates are outside of their cells, periodic temperature checks, and frequent cleaning and sanitizing of the facility. The county says right now no inmates are showing symptoms, but they are being monitored for possible illness.

Big Horn County has 196 active cases. According to health officials, nine of those patients are currently hospitalized, and 110 people have recovered. Nine people have died.

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