New tools that will assist in the investigation and tracking of positive cases of COVID-19, has been unveiled by Yellowstone County's public health service.

According to a press release from Riverstone Health, the "Sara Alert System" now allows residents who are sick to voluntarily share information about their symptoms via text, email or phone. This new system will help with the efficiency of case tracking, which will reduce the strain on our other public health services, according to RiverStone Health.

The "Sara Alert" is already being used in other communities in Montana, and is approved by the CDC.

Montana State University Billings was the test pilot for Sara Alert in our community. MSUB started using the system in mid-November. Aaron Like, Associate Dean of Student Engagement at MSUB says they first used Sara Alert to more effectively communicate their contact tracing efforts to RiverStone Health.

RiverStone Health has also been using the Case Investigation System, or CIS, to help manage the increasing cases of COVID-19. This "data collection platform" allows trackers to report test results electronically to the DPHHS, thus increasing productivity and efficiency.

Shawn Hinz, RiverStone Health's VP of Public Health Services, said "CIS enables a quick turnaround to assign cases for investigation, case investigation without duplicating the process, time efficiency to allow for more cases to be investigated and real time data reporting."

Investigations are now beginning about 12 hours sooner thanks to the CIS system, which will help in identifying potential community clusters and outbreaks, according to the press release.

RiverStone Health's Unified Command also announced their support for CDC's updated quarantine guidelines, which include:

  • Staying home and away from others for 10 days. If no COVID-19 symptoms develop in that period, the person can end quarantine if they continue to monitor themselves for symptoms through day 14.
  • The second new CDC option is to end quarantine after day 7 – if the person has no symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19 five days or more after exposure. In addition, the person should continue to monitor for symptoms for the remainder of 14 days.

CLICK HERE to see the updated COVID-19 dashboard from RiverStone Health.

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