Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Vote for Hopkins for Real Leadership & Real Solutions!

By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Local, county and state responses to COVID-19

 

March 19, 2020

Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press

Health authorities around the world have been unable to completely prevent COVID-19's spread. If cases double every six days, then hospitals, and intensive care units (ICUs) in particular, will be quickly overwhelmed, leaving patients with coronavirus and other ailments without necessary care. But the growth rate can be slowed by reducing the average number of cases that a single case gives rise to. In doing so, the same number of people will probably be infected, and the epidemic will last longer, but the number of severe cases will be spread out. This means that if you plot a graph of the number of cases over time, the rising and falling curve is longer but its peak is lower. By "flattening the curve" in this way, ICUs will be less likely to run out of capacity.

Below is local, county and statewide information provided as of Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. Information changes daily, sometimes hourly. Please call ahead or contact the organization directly with questions.

The Seeley Swan Pathfinder is committed to providing the most up-to-date, accurate information possible. We will be posting Breaking News on our website (seeleylake.com) and sharing local information on our Facebook page (Seeley Swan Pathfinder). The paywall for all coronavirus information has been removed on our website.

For closures or changes to normal operations for services please email us at pathfinder@seeleylake.com, call and leave a message at 406-677-2022 or message us on Facebook. We will do our best to share this information through our website and Facebook page to keep people informed. While we are monitoring community information sources, there is a lot of information for us to sort through and disseminate.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information and best ways of protecting yourself and others, please refer to the Missoula County-City Health Department website http://missoula.co/cvirus or call 406-258-INFO (4636). Other resources include regularly updated information for Montana at covid19.mt.gov and the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Local Information

• Partnership Health Center continues to offer full services at the Seeley-Swan Medical Center. The Medical Center asks that if you have a cough, fever or shortness of breath to please call the SSMC clinic before your visit (406) 677-2277. All patients will be screened prior to entering the Medical Center so please arrive 10 minutes early. PHC is actively working with the Medical Center staff to ensure they have the necessary supplies and testing materials should it be needed. PHC continues to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health authorities, to ensure they continue delivering safe, quality care while limiting further spread of the virus. Visit https://www.partnershiphealthcenter.com/ for up-to-date information on COVID-19

• The Seeley Lake Rural Fire District is using CDC guidelines in our response to possible COVID-19 exposures. When calling 911 the caller will be asked some additional screening questions in order to prepare the responders for possible exposure contact.  The public will notice that the responding personnel will be using additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the N-95 facemask during their interaction with certain patients. Both patients and family members should continue to use best hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing, covering the mouth when coughing, and distancing from larger gatherings. Please be assured that the actions taken by the responders are precautionary to prevent the possible spread of the virus, everybody in our community will continue to receive the high quality of care that they deserve.

• The Seeley-Swan Community Food Bank has implemented a new policy during the coronavirus pandemic and restricts clients from coming inside the Food Bank, next to the multi-purpose room of Seeley Lake Elementary on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Clients can either call ahead or knock on the door and provide the family size. Volunteers will box or bag the items for their family size and hand the bags to the clients. Clients will also receive the normal vouchers for the grocery store. New clients will be given the forms to fill out and they can complete them in their vehicle. Once the forms are complete, volunteers will fill bags or boxes to make sure they receive the assistance they need. 

• As of March 16, there will be no in-person appointments with Missoula Aging Services Resource Specialists including Linda Howard in Seeley Lake. Howard is available for phone appointments at 406 541-7688 Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Call 406-728-7682 on Fridays from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

• All Missoula Aging Services sponsored events are canceled for the remainder of March and April. This includes the Caregiver Support Group scheduled the third Tuesday of every month from 1-2 p.m. at the Mission Bible Fellowship church. The Support Group for March 17 is canceled. The AARP No Cost Tax Service, March 24 at the Seeley Lake Community Foundation is also canceled. Discussions regarding congregate meals and meals-on-wheels will be held this week.

• The Missoula Public Library, all branches including the Seeley Lake Library and Swan Valley Community Library, and mobile outreach are closed Monday, March 16 until further notice. All library programs, events, classes and group activities have been cancelled.

• The Public Works facilities in Missoula and Seeley Lake will be closed to walk-in traffic until further notice. There is an exterior dropbox outside of the office for building permit submittals and issuances.

• Local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery services (when applicable) in light of the Monday, March 16 announcement by the Missoula City-County Health Officer's order closing bars and limiting restaurant service until March 24. The order comes on the heels of CDC guidance to restrict events to fewer than 50 people and the growing evidence supporting social distancing, or the avoidance of large groups of people and close contact. While the order prohibits the operation of bars, casinos and dine-in food service, the order allows for limited operation via drive-thru, take out and delivery service. It also doesn't include food services that are a sole source of food for a population such as nursing homes, UM dining, or hospitals. The impact on congregate meals on the Senior Centers has not been determined.

• ReMarkable Floral is closed until March 31 due to the coronavirus suspension of numerous activities and school closures.

• The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society Outhouses to Internet presentation scheduled for March 20 is postponed.

• Don't Panic - Coronavirus

Preventive steps:

1. Wash your hands frequently with

2. Soap and water for 20 seconds or use

3. Hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol

4. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing

5. Avoid large crowds

6. Disinfect household surfaces that are used frequently COVID - 19 symptoms and questions to consider:

1. Fever of a 100.4 or greater.

2. Deep Cough

3. Shortness of breath

4. Have you recently traveled outside the of State of Montana?

Steps to take if you have the above symptoms:

1. Call your personal medical provider.

2. If symptoms seem to be getting worse, do not call 911 or go to the emergency room, recontact your medical provider immediately and follow their instructions.

3. If you have a medical emergency contact 911, that being, something someone would normally call 911 about.

If quarantined with the COVID – 19

1. Follow quarantine instructions as outlined by the public health department.

2. Don't allow family, friends and others to visit.

3. If you need medication, food, or other essentials, have someone pick them up for you and leave on your porch or at your door. Avoid outside contact to prevent spreading the virus.

More questions? Contact the Missoula County Health Department, 406-258-4770. Information provided by Swan Valley Emergency Services. For more information call Dan Maloughney, 406-754-2260 or John Tapp, 406-754-0016

Churches & related local assistance

• The pastors in Seeley Lake are working together to be available to work towards meeting the needs that might come up from the coronavirus. If you need assistance, please contact: Pastor Jim Johnson, 520-251-2858; Pastor Carrie Benton, 406-210-8169; Pastor Craig Wilson, 406-499-2906 or Pastor Gary Wayne, 406-210-1221

• The Condon Community Church family is working with the Mission Mountains Mercantile to help arrange pickup and delivery of basic necessities, as much as is possible, for those who are self-quarantined in the Swan Valley Community during this time of our National Emergency. If you or someone you know in our Community has a need, please contact Pastor Bruce and Carolyn Rippy, 406-754-6760 or email rippy@blackfoot.net, and we will make our best effort to assist. Or call the Merc directly at 754-2387 to place an order.

• Mission Bible Fellowship suspended all regular gatherings at church, including church services and Sunday school. REMAIN youth group and MBF Kids Club are also canceled while schools are closed.

• Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church suspended in-person worship. Worship will be available online. Follow their Facebook page for more information.

• Seeley Lake Baptist Church and Faith Chapel have canceled worship services on March 22 and March 29. They will reassess in April. Follow their Facebook pages for more information.

• Loving Hearts will be closed until further notice. Loving Hearts asks that no donations be dropped off during this time. For assistance during this time please call Mission Bible Fellowship office at 406-677-2110.

Schools

• All public K-12 schools are closed through March 27 per Governor Steve Bullock's directive Sunday, March 15.

Missoula County Public Schools will suspend, cancel or postpone out of state travel, sponsored community events and non-essential student gatherings through the end of April. All in-state travel will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For current information regarding MCPS's response to COVID-19 visit https://www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19

• Seeley-Swan High School's Destination for Education trip to Costa Rica in April was postponed Wednesday, March 11. SSHS Principal Kellen Palmer added they are working with the travel agency for the best refund possible and will plan to reschedule the trip for some time next year.

• All MCPS sports practices and driver's education programs are suspended along with all Life Long Learning Center programs and classes.

• The ACT test to be given to all Juniors on March 24 will be rescheduled. There is a make-up day later in the spring.

• All Montana High School Association spring activities will be indefinitely suspended until further notice. This includes practices and contests/meet/festivals. The Executive Board will reevaluate this situation on April 13 and any additional information regarding spring activities will be provided as it becomes available. If spring activities are resumed, the practice requirement for sports at that time will be five practices from resumption except for golf which will be the normal two practices required.

• Potomac School is working with the federal school lunch program to be able to provide free meals to their students and perhaps community members as soon as possible. Once approval is given, they will put out a notice about when these meals will be available.

• Effective immediately, all Seeley Lake Elementary after school extra curricular and co-curricular events are cancelled. This includes any activities or practices that were planned over Spring Break. All of these activities as well as other school related activities will be suspended, at least through Friday, March 27. This includes cancellation of the school play. 

• SLE will be canceling or rescheduling any school event that exceeds 50 people, per the CDC guidelines, as well as any event that may be smaller than 50 but includes members of our community interacting with students/staff at the event until May 8. Exceptions to this rule would be any event that is essential to the function of the school. 

• SLE is currently working how to best provide food for our students for March 23 – March 27.

Missoula County

Changes are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the City-County Health Department to employ social distancing and maintain a distance of six feet in public places as of Monday , March 16

• Missoula Electric Cooperative postponed their annual meeting scheduled for March 21.

• Missoula County Commission Chair Josh Slotnick gave verbal approval Monday afternoon to issue an emergency proclamation for Missoula County regarding the Coronavirus. The proclamation enables Missoula County to begin tracking expenses that the City-County Health Department and other county departments incur and submit for possible reimbursement by the federal government.

• The Clerk & Recorder/Treasurer/Motor Vehicle Office (courthouse annex - first floor) will transition to providing all services online.

• Missoula County Justice Court (courthouse - first floor) will begin to ask customers to utilize the customer service window in the west hallway and wait a six foot distance from others who may be waiting to access services.

• Clerk of District Court (courthouse - second floor) will begin allowing only two customers at a time to approach customer service windows in their office. Customers are encouraged to use the online marriage application system.

• Missoula County Sheriff's Office has discontinued all non-essential/non-emergent business including concealed weapons permits, citizen observer program, catering permits and fingerprinting. For all in-progress criminal activity or emergencies call 9-1-1.

Statewide

• March 12 Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency to exist within the state of Montana related to the communicable disease COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

• As of 9 p.m. Monday, March 16, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported nine cases of COVID-19 in Montana. Three are in Missoula County.

• Governor Bullock suspended visitation in Montana's nursing homes except for certain compassionate care situations Sunday, March 15.

• Governor Bullock issued a directive that include public guidance regarding social distancing Sunday, March 15. The Governor, in consultation with public health authorities, strongly recommends the following guidance: 

1. Limiting all gatherings of more than 50 people. Organizers should refrain from planning new gatherings and cancel existing gatherings. Individuals should refrain from attending.

2. Persons age 60 or older and

those who have chronic health

conditions or are immunocompromised should not participate in any gatherings more than 20 people.

3. Anyone over the age of 60 or whom are immunocompromised should avoid providing childcare.

 

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