County COVID rates steady, more Delta variant cases confirmed

Updated 3:50 p.m. July 14

Cascade County added 40 new COVID-19 cases over the last week, bringing the cumulative total to 9,593. Of those, 53 are currently active, according to the Cascade County City-County Health Department’s weekly update.

There were eight new variant cases over the week. The county now has a total of 66 variant cases, most of which are the U.K. variant, according to state data. The first Delta variant was confirmed in Cascade County on July 7 and at 3:45 p.m. July 14, CCHD notified The Electric that two at least two new Delta variant cases had been confirmed.

CCHD officials said they are manually checking through all of the recent test results to ensure an accurate number and will update their weekly report this evening.

In a statement to The Electric, Bowen Trystianson, deputy health officer said, “We are confident in our understanding that we have circulating Delta variant and that we do have two active clusters connected to the Delta variant. We have had a few people in these clusters test positive for Delta, so the probability is extremely high that the majority of cases in these clusters are Delta, if not all of them.”

Delta variant confirmed in Cascade County

“The statewide practice is not to inform a case that they tested positive for a variant. It is tracked for surveillance purposes only and, by the time the variant test results are received, the person often has already completed their isolation period,” according to CCHD.

Over the last week, the county had four new breakthrough cases, bringing the total to 34. Breakthrough cases are those when a person who is fully vaccinated contracted COVID, according to CCHD.

CCHD reports two COVID-19 deaths in June in Cascade County

Fully immunized means two weeks have elapsed since the persons final dose of the vaccine course.

The weekly case rate was 7 per 100,000 and the positivity rate was 5.6 percent.

As of July 12, there have been 58,891 doses of the vaccine administered in Cascade County and 29,635 people, or 43 percent of the eligible population, are fully immunized.

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Earlier this month, CCHD said it’s “crucial” that anyone testing positive for COVID-19 isolate at home and notify everyone they’ve been in contact with 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or 48 hours prior to their test date. Those who’ve been notified that they’re a contact should quarantine at home for 10 days from the time they were last exposed. Quarantine is not necessary for those fully vaccinated for at least two weeks before exposure, according to CCHD.

According to CCHD, they’re still conducting contract tracing for each case. When a fully vaccinated person is identified as as contract, CCHD’s practice is to get in touch and inform them of the exposure, confirm their vaccination status and advice them to monitor for symptoms, Ben Spencer, CCHD spokesman told The Electric earlier this month. He said CCHD generally doesn’t ask them vaccinated people who have been exposed to get tested unless they develop symptoms.

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Cascade County. Visit www.vaccines.gov to find local vaccine providers.

Benefis Health System is near capacity, but not with COVID-19 patients, per state data. As of July 12, there were 217 non-COVID and six COVID patients hospitalized, leaving 17 available. There are 19 non-COVID patients in the ICU, leaving two beds available, according to the state data.

Great Falls Clinic has 18 non-COVID patients hospitalized and 18 beds available.

The clinic posted a reminder on July 14 that they require masks in all of their facilities.

“This guidance is provided by the CDC for healthcare facilities. We would all like to return to normal as soon as possible but until then, please be patient and kind to our staff and wear a mask. If you do not have one when you arrive, one will be provided to you. Please treat our staff with kindness and respect when they ask you to wear a mask. Thank you for your understanding,” the clinic posted.

Benefis Health System also requires all visitors to wear masks in their facilities.