Omicron COVID surge grows, pediatric vaccinations on tap

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The omicron coronavirus wave appears to be receding in some parts of the country, but it is still going strong in Montana.

Beaverhead County came close to meeting last week’s record number of new cases, adding 122 in the past week. As of Tuesday, there were 140 active and 1,977 total cases in the county. The county’s vaccination rate ticked up to 56%. New cases were in all age groups 0-89, with the majority in people in their 30s, followed by people in their teens.

Montana added 13,167 new cases and 29 new deaths in the past week, sitting at 243,133 total cases and 3,016 deaths as of Tuesday. The state’s vaccination rate remained at 54%.

Hospitalizations statewide remained high. Barrett Hospital reported 11% full and had no people hospitalized with COVID as of the most recent statewide report. Hospitals in Carter, Daniels and Musselshell counties reported over 90% full. Hospitals in Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties reported 100% full.

It is not clear how hard the latest COVID wave is hitting local schools. The weekly statewide schools report noted it is far behind in its reporting due to the sheer volume of new cases. The most recent report, updated Jan. 26, lists 32 total cases at the University of Montana Western since the start of the school year. Beaverhead County High School tallied 33 total cases, 24 of them students. Jackson listed one student case, Polaris listed one staff case, Wise River listed three student cases, and the Montana Youth Challenge Academy listed 15 total cases, 13 of those in students. None of these schools includes a running tally of data on their websites.

School District #10 data on its website indicated a total of 66 positive cases for both the middle school and Parkview Elementary since the start of the school year. Of those numbers, 14 were staff, 23 were students at the middle school, and 29 were students at the elementary. That data was through Dec. 19.

Barrett Hospital will have pediatric (ages 5-11) COVID vaccination clinics through April 26. Interested parties can call 406-683-1106 for an appointment, and they do not have to be Barrett patients.

There have been more than 74.2 million COVID cases and over 881,800 deaths nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national vaccination rate is 63.8%.