County adds 9 COVID-19 related deaths; number of active cases decreased as reporting catches up

Cascade County added 57 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 4,456 on Nov. 23, according to the state map.

The number of active cases dropped significantly over the weekend and is currently 2,010.

New COVID-19 restrictions in effect; two more COVID-19 related deaths in Cascade County

“As many of you know, we recently moved to an improved reporting system state wide. Unfortunately there was also an internal server problem. Investigations closed after Nov. 17 had been saved to MIDIS but had not been written over to the map program. These numbers were closed and updated on the map,” according to Cascade County City-County Health Department.

10 patients given incorrect COVID-19 results; county over 4,000 total cases; Guard assisting at Benefis

Statewide, there were 677 new cases, bringing the total to 56,381. Of those, 16,317 are currently active, according to the state map.

Bullock implements new COVID-19 restrictions for bars, restaurants; gathering sizes

On Nov. 23, CCHD announced 9 more COVID-19 related deaths since Nov. 19, bringing the county’s total to 67.

These individuals were:

  • Four males in their 80s
  • A female in her 80s
  • Two males in their 70s
  • A female in her 60s
  • A male in his 40s

“I am deeply saddened that more lives have been lost to this virus,” Trisha Gardner, county health officer, said in a release. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of these individuals. Please continue to support these families, as well as all your community members by taking all the steps available to prevent further spread from happening.”

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

CCHD is encouraging the community to follow the following health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Staying home when you are sick and getting tested if symptoms are consistent with COVID-19
  • Limiting interactions with others and thinking critically about the necessity of engaging in certain events/outings/gatherings
  • Social distancing by at least 6 feet wherever possible
  • Universal masking and proper mask wearing
  • Good sanitation practices and hand washing
  • Isolating if you are positive, and notifying everyone you were in contact with for 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or 48 hours prior to test date
  • Quarantining if you have had close contact with a positive case, and continuing to quarantine for 2 weeks from the time you were exposed.

As of Nov. 20, the average rate of daily new cases by population was 227 per 100,000, according to CCHD.

The county health board implemented COVID-19 restrictions on Nov. 1, some of which were superseded by Gov. Steve Bullock’s Nov. 17 directives, that remain in place until the rate of new cases is 25 per 100,000 for four consecutive weeks.

As of Nov. 20, there were 60 active cases associated with Great Falls Public Schools. The district opted to go completely remote since Nov. 16 through the Thanksgiving holiday and plans to return to classrooms on Nov. 30. On Nov. 23, Superintendent Tom Moore said there were 33 active cases associated with the district, though the numbers might be skewed since GFPS nurses aren’t in as close of touch with students while they’re in remote learning, but they are still monitoring those who were in isolation or quarantine before the district went remote on Nov. 16.

According to state data on Nov. 22, Benefis Health System currently has 49 COVID-19 patients and 170 non-COVID patients, leaving 28 available beds. Of those, eight COVID-19 and 11 non-COVID patients are in the ICU. Three COVID and two non-COVID patients are on ventilators, leaving 21 available.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced Nov. 23 that 110 contracted medical staff from across the country are assisting in Montana hospitals with the COVID-19 response and filling in gaps in healthcare worker shortages due to quarantine or isolation.

“The situation in Montana is serious. Hospital capacity is stressed and our healthcare workers are exhausted, with many unable to work from being exposed to the virus,” Bullock said in a release. “I know I join all Montanans in being incredibly grateful for this additional medical staff to ensure critical care continues during this time. For these national teams and our frontline workers here at home to be successful, we need every Montanan to stay home as much as possible, wear masks, social distance, and avoid gatherings.”

The medical staff are here through a partnership between the State of Montana and talent solution NuWest Group. They include registered nurses and respiratory therapists and do not pull from existing employees within the medical system in Montana, according to Bullock’s release.

Throughout the weekend, 110 medical staff arrived in Montana and began working at hospitals that are at or near capacity, with an anticipated total of 200 staff deployed around the state before Thanksgiving.

The medical staff will serve through the end of the year and the majority are assisting Benefis Health System, Billings Clinic, Kalispell Regional Medical Center and St. Vincent Healthcare.

Medical staff are also deployed at Bozeman Health, Community Medical Center, Great Falls Clinic Hospital, Livingston Healthcare, Providence St. Patrick Hospital and St. James Healthcare, according to Bullock’s release.