CCHD announces more COVID-19 related deaths; catching up on reporting data to state system

Since the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services updated their system that gathers data for the COVID-19 case map over the weekend, there have been some lags and adjustments to the numbers.

Trisha Gardner, Cascade County health officer, said that the update caused some changes to the data, particularly for the number of recovered cases so they aren’t accurate at the moment.

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As of Nov. 16, the county had 3.632 total cases and the number of active cases showing on the state map, 2,899, is slightly higher than the actual numbers, Gardner said.

Great Falls Public Schools reported that they had 74 active cases associated with the district as of Nov. 16. The district has gone remote this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to allow teachers to come off quarantine.

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She said her department is catching up on reporting data and the state system is adjusting to the update and that throughout this week, the numbers should level out and regain their accuracy.

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“Cascade County was behind on data entry into the reporting system and is actively working on catching up. This last week CCHD hired and trained additional contact tracers, continued 7 day a week case investigation and contact tracing and are focused on entering the numbers into the state database. The numbers of recovered cases in Cascade County will continue to rise in the days to come as all the data is entered into the reporting system,” according to the Cascade County City-County Health Department.

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CCHD announced on Nov. 16 that there had been four more COVID-19 related deaths since Nov. 13, bringing the total to 52 for the county.

The number of cases in the county have continued to increase, but last week, the number of new cases by population was 83 per 100,000, down from 99 per 100,000 the previous weeks.

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The Board of Health’s current COVID-19 restrictions went into effect Nov. 1 and will remain in place until the county’s case rate drops to 25 per 100,000 for four consecutive weeks.

Gardner said that though the numbers are still high, she was encouraged by the number of new cases from Sunday and Monday.

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The positivity rate, meaning those who tested positive among those who were tested, increased last week and Gardner said that was indicative of the high number of people in the county carrying the virus, but it “also says we’re testing the right people.”

For now, she said that they’re going to see if the restrictions currently in place help curb the spread, but the possibility of increased restrictions should the numbers continue to rise, “is always in the back of our minds. Is there something more that we could be doing or should be doing. It’s always something we’re considering.”