County COVID case surge slows, statewide high daily cases persist

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Beaverhead County’s new daily COVID-19 case counts have slowed, though cases and hospitalizations statewide continue their record-setting trends.

As of Tuesday, the county had 71 active and 1,406 total cases tallied since the start of the pandemic last year. Thirty-six new cases were added in the past week, with most cases in people in their 30s, 60s and 70s; all other age groups had at least one case. The county recorded 55% of eligible residents vaccinated, higher than the state (54%), but still falling behind the nation overall (57%).

The state added 6,372 new cases and 112 deaths in the past week, which included a 55-new deaths spike on Tuesday. State officials noted a majority of those deaths – 32 – were part of ongoing data reconciliation efforts; 29 of those deaths occurred in September, and three additional deaths dated as far back as November 2020. As of Tuesday, there were 167,268 total cases and 2,206 deaths reported statewide since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations hit an alltime high last week at 510 active hospitalizations. Hospitalizations have averaged in the 400s daily.

Two people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at Barrett Hospital, and the facility was 33% full as of Monday (the most recent statewide hospitalization report). Hospitals in Carbon, Cascade, Lewis and Clark, Sweet Grass and Yellowstone counties were 100% full on that report; facilities in Chouteau, Custer and Flathead counties were over 90% full. Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital in Gallatin has been over capacity with patients in the ICU for the past two weeks.

University of Montana Western Chancellor Michael Reid announced the school will continue to require mask-wearing indoors where social distancing is not possible on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Officials will revisit the issue at the end of block three (Nov. 12). Masks are optional at Beaverhead County High School, School District #10 and Parkview Elementary. BCHS changed its close contacts policy last week (see related story).

As of Oct. 8, the university has reported 10 total cases, according to the most recent statewide schools report. BCHS listed 20 total cases (11 students, nine staff); Parkview Elementary tallied 42 total cases (26 students, 16 staff); and Dillon Middle School recorded 18 total cases (15 students, three staff). Montana Youth Challenge Academy reported 11 total cases, all among students.

There have been more than 44.8 million COVID-19 cases and over 723,200 deaths recorded nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).