The Missoula County Health Department pictured on December 20, 2020.
As hospitals in the county continue to be pushed to their limits, Missoula announced it surpassed two COVID-19 records on Thursday when it reported 46 active hospitalizations and a seven-day average for new daily cases among 100,000 people of 86.
The previous high for active hospitalizations was 43, set on Nov. 7, 2020, and the record seven-day average was 85 recorded on Nov. 21, 2020, according to the Missoula City-County Health Department.
“The Delta variant is a game changer, and it is without a doubt making younger people sicker,” explained Missoula health department COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr in a press release.
Missoula County has the highest vaccination rate in the state at 64 percent — compared to 51 percent statewide — but is still struggling to keep the virus under control.
“This is why we need more young people to get vaccinated,” she said. “Even if you think it won’t impact you, you never truly know until you actually get it. Getting the vaccine is as close as you can get to being guaranteed you won’t end up hospitalized.”
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported 1,096 new cases across the state on Thursday, bringing the statewide active case count to 9,130 and the seven-day average of new cases to 820, the highest mark since Dec. 10, 2020. There were also 355 active hospitalizations across the state on Thursday.
On Saturday, Missoula County broke its daily COVID-19 cases record with 157 new cases. Farr said the Delta variant is so contagious “we cannot rely on vaccines alone, and the public needs to step up other mitigation measures.”
She said health departments across the state have struggled to combat the current surge of the virus as they have been largely stripped of being able to mandate public health measures like masking that helped slow the spread during past surge.
“Pandemic fatigue is real, but the apathy with mitigation efforts is costing us desperately needed hospital beds. We sound like a broken record urging people to wear masks, social distance and wash their hands frequently, but it’s because those tactics work,” she said.
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