County vaccination pace stalls, one new COVID case reported

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Beaverhead County’s vaccination progress has slowed, and may soon be surpassed by vaccination averages in the state and nation as a whole.

As of Tuesday, the county tallied 4,071 (or 48%) residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That compares to 434,684 (47%) fully-vaccinated Montanans, and 159.5 million (48%) United States residents.

Beaverhead County Public Health Director Sue Hansen told the public health board last week the majority of fully-vaccinated county residents are over age 70. Roughly 90% of residents over age 80 are fully vaccinated, compared to 16% of youth ages 12-17. Part of that may be due to when vaccination was allowed for different age groups, as adolescents only recently were allowed to get the Pfizer vaccines. The other part may be that all the people who wanted to get the vaccine have already received it, she said.

“There’s kind of two groups – one group says no way, one group is a little hesitant, and when maybe the vaccines are fully approved, they’ll go ahead,” Hansen said, adding she was looking for board member ideas on how to encourage more residents to get the vaccine.

The county added one new positive COVID case to its total in the past week in a woman in her teens. As of Tuesday, the county had no active and 929 total cases since the start of the pandemic last year. The state of Montana added 464 new cases and eight new deaths in the past week, totaling 114,415 total cases and 1,676 deaths as of Tuesday.

More coronavirus variant cases are circulating in Montana. As of July 7, there were 646 total variant COVID cases recorded in the state; the majority are the United Kingdom strain (457), followed by the two California variants. Cases of the “Delta” variant (first seen in India) are rapidly increasing in the state. Beaverhead County listed nine cases from COVID-19 variants, the majority of them are the Delta strain (4), followed by the UK strain (3) and the California strain (2). The Delta and UK variants are considered “variants of concern” because they are more easily transmitted between people and may cause more severe disease.

The state recorded 383 total “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases as of July 7, or cases that resulted in people who were fully vaccinated. Of those cases, 40 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, and seven died. Most of the breakthrough cases were from the UK variant of the virus.

There have been more than 33.6 million COVID-19 cases and over 604,700 deaths counted nationwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.