Lone Peak/ Big Sky File Art

Lone Peak in Big Sky is shown in this Chronicle file photo.

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Six COVID-19 cases have been tied to a construction site in Big Sky, Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley said Monday.

The six people who tested positive for the disease were employees of a subcontractor that was working for Suffolk Construction on the Montage Big Sky, a $400 million ultra-luxury resort in the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club.

Suffolk Construction, a Boston-based company, learned on March 24 that two employees of a subcontractor had tested positive for COVID-19, said executive project director Joel Nickel. Suffolk Construction required anyone who had contacted the two employees to self-quarantine for 14 days. While in quarantine, four additional employees tested positive.

The six employees live in four separate counties, and their cases are tallied in their home counties, according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

DPPHS would release only three of the four counties — Gallatin, Cascade and Missoula. Spokesperson Jon Ebelt said the fourth county was small enough that releasing the name of the county could identify the person who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Suffolk Construction and the Gallatin City-County Health Department declined to release the name of the subcontractor that employs the six workers, citing privacy concerns.

“All individuals have recovered and we have not had any additional reported cases internally or through the Gallatin (City-) County Health Department,” Nickel said in an emailed statement. “Our construction site continues to operate in accordance with Governor Bullock’s directive and with the strictest of safety protocols outlined by the Center(s) for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

Those who were in self-quarantine must provide Suffolk Construction with a medical note indicating they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms before they can return to work, Nickel said.

Suffolk Construction has an EMT check the temperature of everyone who enters the job site, has sensors in multiple spots that provide an audible alert when people get within 6 feet of each other and regularly disinfects the area.

The company also has stopped busing workers to Montage Big Sky and is instead offering travel reimbursement for workers to drive themselves.

“We continue to foster open dialogue on our job sites and strongly encourage our subcontractors to communicate all safety concerns so they can be immediately addressed,” Nickel said in the statement.

The four county health departments worked with DPHHS to connect their cases to the Montage Big Sky, which sits near the Gallatin-Madison county line.

“This has been challenging because it involves so many counties and cases that have been assigned in multiple counties,” Kelley said. “But we have been able to put the puzzle pieces together.”

It took some time to understand the cluster from the Montage Big Sky construction site. The four counties and the state began looking at the cases from the construction site during the week of March 23 and finished their investigation on Friday. Their work included contacting those who may have been exposed to the virus to ensure they have been isolated to limit its spread.

“The strength of this system is you have local departments with strong relationships in the community doing the work on the ground, but there is also a central repository at the state that can also help,” Kelley said. “It’s complicated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.”

In Gallatin County, there were 138 COVID-19 cases and one hospitalization as of Monday afternoon.

“We are looking at sustained community transmission at this point, so it’s safe to presume that virtually every organization has been impacted,” Kelley said. “This isn’t unusual.”

DPHHS reported Monday that the state had 394 confirmed cases of the virus. The state had conducted 9,098 tests. Of the 394 people who had tested positive, 171 had recovered and 21 were in the hospital.

Gov. Steve Bullock also announced Montana’s seventh death from the virus on Monday. The person who died lived in Flathead County.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.