County COVID-19 rates continuing to drop; healthcare providers asking residents not to call about vaccines

Local health providers are asking residents not to call with questions about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Providers in the county received the first doses of the vaccine in mid-December and Cascade County remains in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution plan.

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People who will be vaccinated in Phase 1A are health care workers and long-term care facility residents only. You can see full vaccination allocation plans online at these links:

“If you fall outside of Phase 1A, please do not contact the hospitals or your health care provider with questions about receiving a vaccination. Cascade County hospitals and clinics have been receiving numerous phone calls and we need to free up their phone lines during this busy time. The Cascade City-County Health Department will keep the public informed and will update you when we move into other vaccine distribution phases,” according to a release from CCHD.

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On Dec. 29, the county added 23 new cases, bringing the total to 6,582, according to the state map. Of those, 847 are currently active.

According to CCHD, the daily average case rate is continuing to drop and as of Dec. 23 it was 66 per 100,000 down from earlier this month.

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In October, the county’s Board of Health voted to implement stricter COVID-19 restrictions that went into effect Nov. 1, including limiting capacity in bars, restaurants and other facilities to 50 percent, and limited events and gatherings to a maximum of 50 people.

Those restrictions will remain in place until the county’s rate of average daily new cases reaches 25 per 100,000 for four consecutive weeks under the local health board’s direction, regardless of changes the incoming governor Greg Gianforte might make.

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When the health board adopted those measures, the rate was 64 per 100,000.

The rate spiked throughout November to 227 per 100,000, which was partially due to backlogs in state reporting, and had been hovering between 88 and 100 per 100,000.

The county’s positivity rate, meaning the percentage of those who take the acute test and get a positive result, has also dropped and as of Dec. 16 was 14.9 percent, down from 22 percent at the end of November.

Allure Aesthetics is now offering antibody tests at their downtown location. East Slope Family Practice is still offering antibody tests.

Antibody tests are not tracked by CCHD or the state, according to Trisha Gardner, county health officer.

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CCHD is continuing to recommend that locals follow these guidelines:

  • 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 wherever possible
  • Universal masking and proper mask wearing
  • Good sanitation practices and hand washing
  • Quarantining if you are a close contact, remaining in quarantine for at least 10 days, and notifying a health care provider if you experience any symptoms
  • 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