County case rate continues to drop, meets first week requirement of county health order
The case rate for the last week was 8 per 100,000 in Cascade County.
The Cascade County City-County Health Department calculates the rate of average new daily cases each Wednesday for the previous week.
Last week, the rate was 15 per 100,000 for Feb. 11-17, according to Trisha Gardner, county health officer.
On Feb. 17, the Cascade County City-County Board of Health adopted a local mask requirement that is in effect until the county’s case rate is 10 per 100,000 or below for two consecutive weeks.
If the case rate holds, or continues to decline, the mask requirement could be lifted as soon as next Wednesday in Cascade County.
But local entities can continue to require masks if they chose to do so.
The Great Falls Public Schools district is continuing to maintain masks for the time being and will re-evaluate the situation when the health board’s order is lifted, Superintendent Tom Moore told the school board during their Feb. 23 meeting. Moore sits on the health board and voted in favor of the mask requirement.
The Great Falls Public Library has a mask requirement in a policy that was adopted by the library board in July, before the statewide mandate was implemented.
Susie McIntyre, library director, told the library board during their Feb. 23 meeting that she and the staff are working on a plan for when they’ll lift or change COVID policies and she’ll bring that back to the board for consideration in the near future.
“I don’t feel like it would be wise for us to make any changes at this time,” McIntyre told the board.
Benefis Health System, Great Falls Clinic and Alluvion Health are continuing to require masks in their facilities.
The current health order also restricts event sizes to 75 percent capacity of venue size, and anything over that requires CCHD approval of an event plan.
On Feb. 24, Cascade County added four new cases, bringing the county’s total to 7,657 and of those, 41 are currently active, according to the state map.
Over the weekend, the state website posted 83 new cases for the county, but only 12 of those were current and the other 71 were from several weeks ago and not counted in calculating the current case rate, according to CCHD.
As of Feb. 23, there was one active case within GFPS.
According to the state dashboard, which is updated on Mondays for county numbers, there have been 15,905 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered. Of those, 5,450 people have been fully immunized.
On Feb. 18, the county opened 3,300 slots for vaccine appointments for the first dose so those numbers will start to be reflected next week in the state totals.
There will be no sign ups for vaccination appointments since last week they opened slots for two weeks in advance .
The new dates will be updated at the online portal.
County officials are hopeful that the county’s allotment of vaccine doses will continue to increase to be able to schedule more appointments at the community clinics.
There are approximately 10,000 people in Cascade County who are 70 and over, and another estimated 16,000 people aged 16-69 with underlying conditions who will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1b, the current phase of the state plan, according to Gardner, county health officer.