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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

COVID-19 Cases Rise Among Unvaccinated In Flathead, Yellowstone Counties

Moderna COVID vaccine in a small bottle

Flathead County officials say COVID-19 cases are on the rise. County health officials say many recent cases have come from unvaccinated people attending indoor events.

Flathead Health Officer Joe Russell says the average number of cases reported to the health department have risen since June.

“As of last Friday, we were 13.8 cases per day, up from around 10 for the month previous. It seems to be climbing even more,” Russell says.

Over the weekend, 44 new cases were recorded, bringing the average daily case count closer to 15. Russell says many recent cases have come from events where unvaccinated people gathered indoors.

Russell says three of the recent cases are confirmed to be the Delta variant, which is more transmissible. Current COVID vaccines have been shown to be effective against the Delta and other variants, but health officials in places like Flathead and Yellowstone counties are concerned for their unvaccinated populations. 

According to state data, 39% of the eligible population in Flathead County and 46% of Yellowstone County are fully vaccinated. Statewide, 47% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. 

Yellowstone Health officer John Felton says the county continues to see an increase in COVID-19 deaths with one death every other day so far this month.

“And what we’re seeing is most of those cases are unvaccinated,” Felton says. 

Felton adds that local hospitals are seeing younger patients and more patients are winding up in the ICU and or on ventilators.

Statewide hospitalizations have jumped up from 39 on July 5 to 51 on Monday.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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