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Ravalli Co. COVID cluster linked to Stock Farm

Missoulian, Mont. — Matt Neuman Missoulian, Mont.

May 23-- May 23--This week's cluster of eight COVID-19 infections in Ravalli County involved employees of the luxury Stock Farm Club, Steve Buck, the club's general manager and CEO, said in a Friday afternoon press release.

Seven of the employees remained in isolation Friday, while one worker who had been hospitalized was expected to be released Friday into quarantine, he said.

Awareness of the cluster began with Sunday's announcement by the Ravalli County Public Health Department that one man between the ages of 50 and 60 had been hospitalized, and that a rapid-response test had indicated the coronavirus. Nine other people were tested as a result. The State Lab confirmed the man's test results on Monday, and on Tuesday Ravalli County announced six more cases.

Director of Public Health Karyn Johnston said at the time it was believed the man initially tested caught COVID-19 while traveling outside the county.

"When one employee wasn't feeling well, we immediately notified the Ravalli County Health Department for guidance and closed the Stock Farm," said Buck. He said many of those involved had worked for the Stock Farm for more than 20 years.

"The safety of our employees, our members and residents, and our community is our top priority," Buck said in Friday's news release. "We are very thankful for the immediate and thorough response of our County's healthcare professionals. This virus can be caught anywhere and by anyone and we urge everyone to follow Ravalli County Health Department and CDC guidelines." He said the Stock Farm Club has exceeded all of Montana's directives and safety protocols from their initial activation.

The Ravalli County Health Department evaluated additional Stock Farm employees. All those tested or evaluated are self-quarantining as an additional safety precaution, Buck said.

The county announced Friday that all pending COVID-19 tests in Ravalli County had come back negative, leaving the current total infections in the county at eight.

In a Friday news release, Ravalli County COVID-19 information officer Dixie Dies reminded residents to follow the guidelines in place for the state's phased reopening plan.

"Wear masks, distance, wash hands and surfaces, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing -- per Montana's Phase One," she wrote.

Montana has had a total of 479 cases with 441 recoveries, 16 deaths and 22 active cases, according to information from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services posted Friday.

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