Cascade County infectious disease rate drops, could stay that way if people celebrate smart this weekend

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - With new CDC guidelines if you test positive for COVID-19, we reached out to the Cascade City-County Health Department to learn more about their contact tracing protocols. 

Right now they are advising people to follow all CDC guidance. 

Bowen Trystianson, interim health officer for CCHD says they have less than 10 contact tracers, which is more than the start of the pandemic, but it's still not a lot. 

With the sheer volume of positive cases, he says it's hard to reach everyone in a timely manner. 

"Some people don’t have any contacts and all the necessary epidemiological information can be collected in a 10-minute phone call. Others might have dozens of contacts across multiple jurisdictions that must be tracked down and contacted, which could take several hours for a single case," said CCHD.

CCHD says each positive individual will receive a letter outlining the applicable quarantine and isolation procedures.

"If individuals who do test positive can have those conversations with the folks that they've been around, it would expedite helping curbing this disease a lot faster. You know we are trying to get to everyone as quickly as we can here. It's just we have a limited staff with quite a bit of results coming in every day which just makes it challenging to get it done in the time frame we want to get it done in," said Trystianson.

Now, he says the benefit of CCHD reaching out to people is the privacy and it follows HIPPA regulations.

If you don't feel comfortable reaching out to people, he says they will still contact all positive cases and do contact tracing. 

Right now, procedures are the same for everyone regardless of vaccination status. 

"The isolation guidelines for infected individuals are the same regardless of vaccination status, but the quarantine guidelines for exposed people who have not tested positive may vary based on vaccination status," said CCHD. 

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