Beaverhead County adds two new COVID deaths

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Two Beaverhead County residents died in the past week from COVID-19, according to the state of Montana.

Public Health Director Sue Hansen said she could only confirm one – a man in his 90s, who died from COVID on Oct. 18. Hansen said she cannot confirm any other deaths until she receives death certificates.

The deaths were among 75 added statewide in the past week. Some of those deaths were part of Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) data reconciliation efforts for prior months. DPHHS announced Monday that COVID-19 associated deaths are the third leading cause of death of Montanans in 2020, and possibly for 2021. The provisional data will be finalized in 2022.

Beaverhead County’s new case counts have declined over the past couple of weeks, though active cases remain elevated. As of Tuesday, there were 37 active and 1,489 total COVID-19 cases, and 17 total deaths in the county since the start of the pandemic. The majority of new cases were in teens and people in their 50s and 60s; every other age group except people over 80 had at least one new case. The county added 37 cases in the past week.

The county’s vaccination rate remained at 56%, higher than the state’s 55%, but losing ground against the national vaccination rate of 58%.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency authorization Oct. 29 to the Pfizer vaccine for youth aged 5-11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needs to set recommendations before parents can get this vaccine for their children. To date, it is the only vaccine with an authorization for that age group; the FDA is still evaluating Moderna’s data for the 12-17 age group. The Johnson and Johnson single-shot vaccine is only authorized for people aged 18 and older.

Montana State University Extension will host a series of COVID-19 webinars in the next couple of months. They are free and scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 2, Nov. 16, Nov. 30, and Dec. 14. The webinars will feature experts from across the state discussing topics such as virology, immunization research, lab testing, health communications, vaccine hesitancy and other topics. Registration is not required but registering will send the person an email reminding them of the upcoming webinar. For more information or to register, visit https://msuextension. org/wellness/vaccine_outreach/ mtexperts.html .

Hospitalizations ticked down slightly on Monday, though they remain high across the state. Barrett Hospital reported three COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 67% full as of the most recent state report. Facilities in Flathead, Gallatin, Musselshell and Yellowstone counties were over 90% full. Facilities in Carbon, Cascade, Chouteau, Fallon, Lewis and Clark, and Sweet Grass counties were 100% full.

The state of Montana added 5,010 new COVID cases in the past week. As of Tuesday, there were 178,114 total cases and 2,380 deaths from the virus.

There have been more than 45.8 million COVID cases and over 743,900 deaths recorded nationwide.