The Missoula County Health Department pictured on December 20, 2020.
Missoula County reported the highest amount of daily new cases on Saturday with 157 and said in a press release Tuesday that it is on track to break its record high of active cases by Wednesday morning.
The county’s record of active cases came in November 2020 with 1,217. On Tuesday, the Missoula City-County Health Department said it was only 31 cases shy of breaking that record.
In the release, Health Officer D’Shane Barnett said the county’s vaccination rate, which is the highest in the state, is not enough to combat the residents, especially younger age groups, not doing enough to help establish herd immunity.
“Just over 52 percent of 20- to 29-year-olds have received at least one shot, which is nowhere near herd immunity,” explained Barnett. “It is no coincidence that this age group is making up the majority of our cases right now.”
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 surges.
“We’re getting troubling calls from employees who say their employers have asked them to come to work despite testing positive for COVID-19, having symptoms or being identified as a close contact. That will only exasperate the situation further,” COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr said in the release from Missoula.
Montana reported 1,249 new cases on Tuesday bringing the active case count to 8,332 and the seven-day new case average to 781 — the highest since Dec. 12, 2020. The state also reported an additional five deaths and 11 new active hospitalizations, bringing the total active hospitalizations in the state to 362.
“We can get this surge under control faster and help alleviate the pressure on Missoula’s hospital system. Business owners can voluntarily reduce capacity at their businesses, ask patrons to wear masks, practice social distancing, increase sanitization and ask employees to stay home when sick. Individuals can wear masks in public, keep their social circles small, wash their hands frequently and also stay home when sick,” the release said.
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