A man wearing a mask glances into Rocking R Bar as he walks down Main Street on Aug. 27, 2020.

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A report from Gallatin County health officials shows that the seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents have mostly been trending down lately, with a small uptick during the past week. It also shows that cases are, in most age groups, beginning to level out or even trend down after large spikes beginning in early July.

The data from the Gallatin City-County Health Department is part of a new COVID-19 surveillance report the department plans to release each week. The reports will be released on Fridays and are in addition to the case number reports, which are released every weekday.

The reports will include daily case counts along with the seven-day rolling averages of cases per 100,000 residents, which health officer Matt Kelley said will help compare Gallatin County with other counties and with all of Montana.

“Since we have about 114,000, 115,000 people in Gallatin County it’s not a huge adjustment, but it does allow us to compare to some other counties,” Kelley said Friday at a virtual news conference.

The surveillance reports are meant to give more information to the public, especially parents making decisions about sending their kids to school and extra-curricular activities.

“We really wanted to put this together because there’s a lot of organizations, there’s a lot of individuals and there’s a lot of families that are trying to make decisions to find a path through the fall,” Kelley said. “We want to be sure we’re building the mechanisms to provide information to folks to help them make decisions, healthy decisions.”

This week’s report showed that contact tracers in the county work quickly. The health department begins contact tracing within 24 hours of learning of a positive COVID-19 case a vast majority of the time, according to the report.

In over 750 cases, the department began investigations within one day of being notified of a county resident with a positive case. In less than 250 cases, it took over 24 hours to begin investigations.

Also included in the weekly reports are daily and seven-day average for the percent of positive tests, the time it takes between a test and when the health department receives information about the test and the amount of time it takes for public health to begin an investigation into a positive case. Additional metrics are cumulative cases by age group and cases by symptom onset date.

“As we head into a new holiday weekend next weekend, as people are making their plans for that, I really want to stress how important it is and how much we want people, as they’re making those plans, to keep it local, keep it small,” Kelley said. “We want to avoid the type of surge we saw after the fourth of July.”

Daily COVID-19 case counts in Gallatin County jumped exponentially after the Fourth of July weekend, going from mostly single-digit or low teens to upward of 30 new cases in a day. A majority of those cases were in people between 20 and 29 years old, followed by people between 30 and 39 years old.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.