Montco commissioner: ‘Assume there is community spread’ of virus in the county

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — With more than 40 positive coronavirus cases in Montgomery County, and more than 500 people quarantined, the county is shifting gears in how they will deal with the virus.

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said they’re moving to what’s called a “community-spread” model. Based on advice from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, they will no longer pursue contact-tracing, in which officials follow up with a patient and ask him or her to try to remember everyone they have come in contact with and everywhere they have been. 

With so many cases — and even more quarantines — Arkoosh said, “we are assuming there is community spread, meaning you might get it just from normal activity.”

But that’s to be expected of a contagious virus, Arkoosh reassured. However, that means it will be up to the individual who tests positive or who has symptoms to tell anyone he or she has been in contact with to take precautions.

Updated quarantine and isolation guidelines from the PA Dept of Health that @VAArk discussed at today’s meeting. #FlattenTheCurve #MontcoStrong

— Montgomery County PA (@MontcoPA) March 18, 2020

She said anyone who self-isolates needs to do so for at least seven days after the symptoms started, and they must be fever-free for at least 72 hours without any fever-reducing medicine.

This move means the average healthy person doesn’t need to get tested, and officials would rather utilize the scarce resources for critical workforce personnel.

“Who, if we can determine they are negative and they’re asymptomatic, we can get them back to work,” Arkoosh added.

In addition to paramedics, hospital workers and first responders, critical workforce personnel also includes grocery store or pharmacy workers, along with people keeping those supply lines open.

Montgomery County also has its second pediatric case: a 1-year-old from Royersford, who is hospitalized.