Mask rule remains in effect in Cascade County for at least two more weeks

The mask requirement remains in place for at least two more weeks in Cascade County.

The county’s case rate, which is an average of daily new cases for the last week, is 15 per 100,000 as of March 3.

The rate is calculated on Wednesdays for the prior week.

Cascade County health board adopts mask requirement

The City-County Board of Health voted Feb. 17 to adopt a health order requiring masks and limiting events to 75 percent of venue capacity until the county reaches a case rate of 10 or less per 100,000 for two consecutive weeks.

Last week’s rate was 8 per 100,000.

That means the order is in place for at least the next two weeks.

Trisha Gardner, county health officer, said there had been a slight increase in cases locally and statewide over the last week.

Gardner said that the county has sent at least one sample off requesting testing for variant sequencing.

Gov. Greg Gianforte said March 2 that the state is moving into Phase 1B+ for vaccinations effective March 8.

In Phase 1B+, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Montanans 60 years of age and older and Montanans 16 to 59 years of age with additional qualifying medical conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease, according to Gianforte’s office.

That will expand the number of people eligible for the vaccine in Cascade County, Gardner said.

Next round of vaccine appointments opens March 4

Scheduling for the next round of first-dose vaccinations opens March 4 at 9 a.m.

The scheduling option will open at that time on the online portal here.

Appointments will be available on the following dates:

  • March 8 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • March 10 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • March 12 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • March 15 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • March 17 – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • March 19 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The county opened COVID-19 vaccination appointments to everyone in Phase 1b on Feb. 19.

County case rate continues to drop, meets first week requirement of county health order

That includes:

  • Everyone over the age of 70
  • Individuals 16-69 with qualifying health conditions.
  • American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications

“No doctor’s note or other proof of medical condition is required. That would quickly overwhelm doctors’ offices,” according to CCHD.

Phase 1B qualifying medical conditions are:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy
  • Immuno-compromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • On a case-by-case basis, medical providers may include individuals with other conditions that place them at elevated risk for COVID-19-related complications

Data collected by the Department of Public Health and Human Services showed that Montanans 60 years of age and older account for 89 percent of deaths and 72 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19. Phase 1b, which Montana entered into on Jan. 19, made vaccines available to populations that accounted for approximately 75 percent of deaths and 50 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19, according to Gianforte’s office.

The majority of local jurisdictions estimated that their 1b completion was greater than 50 percent, with 14 jurisdictions estimating a Phase 1b completion rate greater than 75 percent, according to Gianforte’s office.

As of March 3, a total of 269,222 doses have been administered with 94,766 fully vaccinated, according to the state dashboard.

As of March 1, in Cascade County, 19,245 total doses have been administered and 6,963 people have been fully vaccinated.

On March 3, the county added 20 cases for a total of 7,728, according to the state map, and of those, 60 are currently active.

As of March 2, there were 17 active cases within Great Falls Public Schools.