The Ekalaka Eagle - Your Community Builder

By Raquel Williams
Carter County Public Health Nurse 

COVID-19 updates


As of Tuesday, June 9, Montana reports 554 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 51 active cases, and 18 deaths from the disease. State officials also report that 72 of the cases have resulted in hospitalizations, with 5 patients currently hospitalized, and 485 patients considered recovered.

There continue to be zero cases of COVID-19 in Carter County. Since we started testing for COVID-19 in March, Montana has only had 554 positive cases, with surrounding states having significantly higher numbers. In Montana, there are currently only 51 active cases, and 485 people have already recovered from COVID-19. In South Dakota, there are 972 active cases, with 4483 recovered. North Dakota has 379 active cases, with 2450 already recovered.

However, the majority of people tested so far have had symptoms of COVID-19. But, researchers have found that individuals can have COVID-19 yet have no symptoms. Scientists need more data to learn more about the virus that causes COVID-19. Obtaining more data is one reason sentinel surveillance has started.

Sentinel surveillance is a system used by public health and other scientists to obtain high-quality data that cannot be collected through a passive system. Sentinel surveillance usually involves coordinating with organizations where there is a high-probability the disease will be found.

Montana has begun sentinel surveillance to obtain more data on COVID-19. Data collected in a well-designed sentinel system can be used to determine disease trends. This data can also help identify outbreaks. Especially in this instance of COVID-19, another reason to perform sentinel surveillance is so that individuals who are positive but do not have symptoms can be quarantined before the virus is spread to many people.

Long-term healthcare organizations were among the first to be involved in sentinel testing in Montana. Long-term healthcare was chosen because the elderly are at high risk of developing severe complications related to COVID-19. Many residents and staff of long-term care facilities have already been tested for COVID-19.

There are plans to expand sentinel surveillance testing in Montana. However, some factors must be considered before wide-spread sentinel surveillance can begin. There must be enough extra testing kits available to test people with no symptoms, and enough staff to perform the testing and to follow up with test results.

Even with the addition of sentinel testing, we must continue to do our part to slow the spread of the virus. Stay home as much as possible. Avoid contact with sick people. When out in public, cover your cough and sneezes with the crook of your elbow or a tissue. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces or objects.

To learn more on sentinel surveillance go to the world health organization's website,


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