COVID variant map update for the State of Montana, May 7, 2021 (Source: Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services).
On the same day Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill that rescinded all mask mandates, Montana reported its first cases of variants that could be more deadly, evade immunization and have mutated.
The story was first reported by Marista Georgiou of NBC-Montana.
Those two variants, known as the “Brazil” and “India” types, were reported in Montana on Friday on the state’s database and website. It appears that public officials did not send out alerts or notify the public.
Questions to Gianforte’s office have not been returned on Saturday.
The P.1 variant of SARS-COV-2, commonly referred to as the Brazil variant, has been noted in three Montana counties, Big Horn, Gallatin and Meagher. Each has one.
The B.1.617.2 variant of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the India variant, has had one confirmed case in Gallatin County.
Montana, like other states, tracks variants because they can be more resistant to antibodies or vaccines and be more contagious.
The daily total of these “variants of interest” or “variants of concern,” through Friday, for the state of Montana, was 188 new cases.
On the same day the new variants were reported by the state, Gianforte signed into law House Bill 257, which eliminated enforcement of mask mandates, including Gallatin County, which has been a hotspot for COVID-19 variants with 37 cases, nearly 50 percent more than the next closest county. Public health officials across the state lamented the governor signing the law, sending out their own public messaging urging residents to continue to wear masks.
NBC News also reported that the Brazilian variant appears to be more deadly and is killing babies and young children at a substantially higher rate.
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