Three Beaverhead residents die from COVID in a week

New quarantine options in place
By 
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Three Beaverhead County residents died of COVID-19 last week, two in area hospital facilities and one in Missoula County, public health officials said.

The deaths were the fourth, fifth and sixth for county residents since virus cases began appearing in Montana in March. The recent deaths include a man in his 70s (on Nov. 30), a man in his 80s and a man in his 90s (both Dec. 4).

All the county deaths tallied were in residents age 60 and older. The first death occurred in August and was a woman in her 60s. The second and third deaths were a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s, both in early November.

Beaverhead County passed the 600-total-case mark on Saturday according to state of Montana data; public health officials posted the county had 644 total cases on Facebook Thursday. As of Tuesday, the state listed 621 total cases in the county and three deaths, with 48 active cases. That’s 44 new cases added over last week, according to state data. The state’s numbers are roughly a week behind local case data reports; the most recent deaths have not yet been added to the state’s total.

New county cases this week were listed for residents in all age groups, including a 100-year-old woman. The majority of new cases are in people in their 20s, followed by those in their 30s.

New quarantine options from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were announced by local public health on Friday. The new options allow shorter quarantine periods depending on symptoms and testing. Quarantine separates a person who might have been exposed to COVID-19 from others, to reduce the chance of spreading the virus if they have it but do not develop symptoms.

The first option allows quarantine to end after Day 10 without testing and with no symptoms reported during daily monitoring. The second option allows quarantine to end after Day 7 if a specimen tests negative and no symptoms are reported in daily monitoring, but the test cannot be performed before Day 5. Quarantine can be discontinued in these cases only if there was no clinical evidence of COVID-19 through daily symptom monitoring during the entire quarantine period, and if daily symptom monitoring continues through the entire 14-day quarantine period.

“In reducing the number of quarantine days, it is our hope that there will be more compliance and decrease some of the financial and social burden to the community,” according to a public health press release. “We ask that cases please be honest with the contact tracers regarding naming their close contacts. Those people have the right to know that they were exposed so they can take the appropriate actions to reduce the spread to their families, co-workers and the community.”

The full list of quarantine options is available on the CDC website, www.cdc.gov.

Vaccine distribution plans for the first round of coronavirus vaccine were announced by Gov. Steve Bullock on Monday. The predicted 9,750 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine (expected as soon as Dec. 15) would go to health care workers at Montana’s major hospitals; a separate, second round dose would be provided at the 21-day mark after administration of the first. The federal government requires the vaccine be sent directly to facilities with cold storage access.

Statewide, Montana added 6,141 new cases over the past week and 65 new deaths. As of Tuesday, the state recorded 69,346 total cases and 763 deaths since tracking began in March. Case counts are setting records nationwide, with record daily new cases and deaths on multiple days in the past week. As of Tuesday, there were over 14.8 million total cases and over 282,700 deaths since the start of the year in the United States, according to the CDC.