County vaccination rate up, COVID cases down

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
County vaccination rate up, COVID cases down

The COVID-19 vaccinated percentage of Beaverhead County residents increased slightly in the past week, as public health officials started up their mass vaccination clinics again.

As of Tuesday, 54% of eligible county residents are considered fully vaccinated (aged 5 and up). That is the first increase in the vaccination percentage in about a month. That is higher than the state’s vaccinated percentage (51%), though still lower than the nation overall (59.9%).

Public health will host mass vaccination clinics the next two Fridays (Dec. 10 and Dec. 17) at Straugh Gymnasium on the University of Montana Western campus. Appointments are encouraged, and can be made by calling 406-683-3203 and leaving a message with a name and phone number. The clinics will offer booster shots for all three approved COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people over 18 can get boosters at least six months after Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations, and two months after J&J.

The county added 16 new COVID cases in the past week, mirroring a downward statewide trend. As of Tuesday, there were 15 active and 1,590 total cases in the county. The majority of the new cases were in people in their 40s and 70s.

Montana added 1,993 new cases and 106 deaths in the past week. Deaths have been increasing, though many are being added through records reconciliation. As of Tuesday, the state counted 193,005 total cases and 2,777 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Daily hospitalizations are declining in Montana. As of the most recent state report, Barrett Hospital was 33% full and had two COVID patients hospitalized. Hospitals in Chouteau, Gallatin and Yellowstone counties were more than 90% full; facilities in Cascade, Lewis and Clark and Richland counties were 100% full. St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula County was 12 patients over capacity. nationwide are increasing, and it is unclear why. CDC officials say the majority of new cases remain with the delta strain of the virus, which is the dominant strain in the nation. Not much is known yet about the omicron variant, which has been detected in several states so far.

There have been more than 49 million COVID-19 cases and over 785,600 deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic.