Beaverhead County adds 18th COVID death

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

An 18th Beaverhead County resident has died of COVID-19, according to state of Montana data.

The death is the third tallied in the past two weeks. Beaverhead County Public Health Director Sue Hansen did not have death certificates for two of the last three, which she needed to verify before she could release information to the public.

The county’s new COVID cases have continued to decline, adding 14 new cases in the past week. As of Tuesday, there were 20 active and 1,503 total cases reported in the county. The countywide vaccination rate remained at 56%, higher than the state (55%) but losing ground compared to the national vaccination rate (58.4%).

The University of Montana Western reported 15 total COVID cases since the start of the school year on the most recent statewide schools report. Beaverhead County High School listed 22 total cases, with 13 of those in students. Dillon Middle School listed 23 total cases, with 19 in students. Parkview Elementary counted 46 total cases, with 30 of those students. Montana Youth Challenge Academy listed 12 total cases, all in students.

The state’s reported deaths over the past month have been on an uptick, though some of those deaths are from data reconciliation records from the past year. The state added 4,354 new cases and 57 deaths in the past week. As of Tuesday, there were 182,468 total cases and 2,437 deaths recorded in Montana since the start of the pandemic.

COVID hospitalizations statewide have decreased slightly, but remain high. As of the most recent statewide report, there were three people with COVID-19 hospitalized at Barrett Hospital, and the facility was 61% full. Facilities in Cascade, Chouteau, Lewis and Clark, and Sweet Grass counties were at maximum capacity. Hospitals in Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, and Yellowstone counties were over 90% full.

COVID-19 is considered the third leading cause of death statewide in 2020, according to an analysis of provisional death data by Montana Department of Health and Human Services epidemiologists. The data will be finalized later in 2022, and that ranking could change. DPHHS officials said they expected similar rankings for 2021 deaths. The preliminary report noted COVID deaths in Montana were statistically below the national rate, though they were four times higher than the national rate among American Indian/Alaska Native residents. Men fared worse than women overall related to COVID-19 outcomes, according to the report.

From 2015 to 2019, the leading causes of death in Montana were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease and non-motor vehicle accidents. The top two causes of death were heart disease and cancer.

There have been more than 46.4 million COVID-19 cases and over 752,100 deaths nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).