COVID-19 case spike worsens, unvaccinated filling hospitals

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Public health officials urged residents to get vaccinated, pointing to increasing cases and rates of hospitalization across the state and nation from COVID-19 among unvaccinated individuals.

Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Adam Meier said Thursday data from the past eight weeks showed 89% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, and those hospitalized ranged from age 1 to 97, with a median age of 64. Daily hospitalizations have increased 44% from the week ending July 23 to the week ending July 30.

“This data illustrates just how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in preventing serious illness when you consider how far we’ve come since the vaccine first became available,” he said. “The data is also a reminder of how important it is to get vaccinated. This is now a vaccine-preventable disease, and the last thing we want to see are more cases and hospitalizations.”

Barrett Hospital had no COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday, according to the state’s weekly report on hospital capacity. Hospital officials urged residents to get vaccinated, noting an increase in new cases among the unvaccinated stateand nationwide, largely due to the Delta variant of the virus.

“The COVID-19 Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the country, accounting for about 80% of the new COVID infections. The areas with the most Delta variant cases are those with lower vaccine rates,” Barrett Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Moore said. “Medical studies show that people who have completed the two-dose vaccine series from Moderna or Pfizer have about 88-90% effectiveness against the new Delta strain. A more staggering medical study shows that 99.5% of the deaths from the new Delta strain are in unvaccinated people. I would urge those who have not yet been vaccinated to reconsider and get vaccinated. The vaccine will not only protect you, but will also protect your loved ones and our community.”

As of Aug. 3, Beaverhead County has 11 confirmed COVID-19 variant cases, with the majority (five) from the Delta strain. The others are from the Alpha (four) and California (two) strains. Statewide, the majority of variant cases are caused by the Alpha strain (545) though the Delta variant numbers are growing quickly (161 cases).

As of Tuesday, Beaverhead County had vaccinated 50% of its eligible residents, compared to 49% statewide. The largest surges in new cases were in low-vaccination counties, specifically Flathead (40%), Yellowstone (47%), and Cascade (44%) counties. Nationwide, 50.2% of eligible residents are vaccinated, passing the state and Beaverhead County.

Vaccines are widely available statewide, and are authorized for use in those age 12 and up. To schedule vaccinations, call Beaverhead County Public Health at 683-3203 Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and leave a message with name and phone number for a return call.

Eight new COVID-19 cases were added to Beaverhead County’s total in the past week, with the majority in men in their 20s, followed by one case each in people in their teens, 30s, 40s, 60s and 80s. As of Tuesday, the county listed nine active cases and 947 total cases since the start of the pandemic last year.

Over the past week, Montana added 1,721 new cases and 10 deaths. As of Tuesday, the state counted 118,754 total cases and 1,726 deaths since the start of the pandemic. There have been more than 35.6 million cases and over 614,200 deaths since the start of the pandemic nationwide.