State to scale back COVID-19 reporting, citing low transmission rates

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard will be updated on a weekly, not daily basis starting May 6

By: - May 4, 2022 11:53 am

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan).

Citing low COVID-19 transmission rates, the Montana State Health Department announced Tuesday that starting next week it will scale back its COVID-19 reporting.

Updates to the COVID-19 cases and vaccine dashboards will now be reported on a weekly basis with the reports coming out each Friday. After the Friday, May 6 update, the next update will be on May 13. The reports will include updated data on cumulative cases, new cases, hospitalizations, total deaths, vaccine doses administered and more from the previous week, the Department of Public Health and Human Services said in a news release.

“These changes do not mean that public health officials have scaled back COVID-19 surveillance efforts. DPHHS will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Montana,” the Department of Public Health and Human Services said in a news release.

As of Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Montana counties were considered to have a high or substantial community transmission rate. Across the country, 28% of counties were considered by the CDC to have high community transmission rates compared to the 13% considered to have low levels of community transmission.

Changes also include a pause on weekly reports on active COVID-19 cases in schools and long-term care facilities, but will instead include that data in weekly surveillance reports, which the department said it will continue to publish.

“I think it makes sense at this time … (DPHHS) only has so much person power and to free up some time of the public health staff to work on other public health issues is very important,” said former State Medical Officer Greg Holzman.

On Tuesday, the state reported 119 new cases, bringing the active case count to 644. But the seven-day average for cases in the state has dropped drastically in recent months from 740 on March 5 to just 83 on Monday, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker. Currently, 55% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.

“Local public health officials will continue to investigate COVID-19 outbreaks and cases in settings which may expose individuals at high risk for severe outcomes. Health officials request that the public follow COVID-19 precautions recommended by the CDC given their community’s COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization levels, including being current on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters,” the release said.

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. Keith is no longer a reporter with the Daily Montanan.