11th COVID death added in county

Pfizer vaccinations authorized for adolescents
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A man in his 30s died last August from complications related to COVID-19, local public health officials reported this past week, bringing countywide deaths from the disease to 11 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Calling COVID-19 “a significant condition contributing to death,” Beaverhead County Public Health Director Sue Hansen said the information was confirmed several months later through the normal death reconciliation process at the state level.

“This would have been the first COVID-related death in Beaverhead County,” she added.

Additional deaths in the county include a woman and a man in their 60s, three men in their 70s, two women and one man in their 80s, and a woman and a man in their 90s. Most of the deaths happened in November and December 2020.

Residents are encouraged to continue to do all they can to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and those who are vaccinated now have something to celebrate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their recommendations to allow fully-vaccinated people to choose not to mask up or physically distance themselves in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws and regulations. Fully vaccinated people can also refrain from testing following known exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or homeless shelter.

Also this past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration administered an emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer two-dose vaccine, for people ages 12 and older. It had previously been authorized for ages 16 and up. Public health officials will survey county residents to see if there is interest in having vaccination clinics for the Pfizer vaccine in Dillon before school lets out for the summer. The department may also collaborate with Butte-Silver Bow to administer the Pfizer vaccine.

Vaccinations have slowed in the county, as the health department ceased holding mass vaccination clinics. As of Monday, the county has administered 7,142 doses of vaccine, and 3,629 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That is an increase of 112 people over the prior week.

Statewide, 370,768 people are fully vaccinated, out of 774,587 doses administered as of Tuesday. Nationally, 158.3 million people have received at least one dose (47.7% of the eligible population) and over 124.4 million people have been fully vaccinated (37.5%).

Public health continues to offer COVID vaccination clinics every Friday at its offices on Barrett Street in Dillon, with both the Moderna two-shot and Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccinations available. Call 406-683-3203 to schedule and appointment, or call 406-683-4771 for other questions.

The state added 38 new “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases over the past week. A breakthrough case occurs when a person is diagnosed with the disease 14 or more days after completing the final dose of vaccine. As of May 14, 159 total breakthrough cases have been recorded, 16 required hospitalization, and two people died.

Of virus “variant” strains, the most common in the state is the United Kingdom variant (114), followed by both California variants (80 total between them). The majority of “breakthrough” cases came from the UK strain, followed by the California variants. Two Beaverhead County COVID-19 positive cases were from one of the California strains.

The county added two new COVID-19 cases and the one death to its tally over the past week. As of Tuesday, there was one active case, 910 total cases, and 11 deaths tallied for Beaverhead County. Montana overall added 754 new cases and nine deaths over the past week; with 110,861 total cases and 1,602 deaths counted.

There have been more than 32.7 million cases and over 583,500 deaths counted as of Tuesday nationwide, according to the CDC.