County COVID case rate up this week with 506 new cases

Updated 4 p.m. Sept. 16

Cascade County added 506 new COVID-19 cases over the last week, bringing the cumulative total to 11,979 and of those 962 are active, according to the health department’s weekly update.

This week’s case rate, which is the average of new daily cases over the last seven days, is 88.9 per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 13.9 percent.

According to the Cascade County City-County Health Department, 87.7 of this week’s new cases were unvaccinated and 12.3 percent were vaccinated.

The case rate is up from last week’s of 61.6 per 100,000 and a 12.5 percent positivity rate, according to the Cascade County City-County Health Department.

Great Falls High going remote due to COVID-19 cases

The previous week, the case rate was 79.7 per 100,000 and the positivity rate was 12.4 percent.

At the end of August, the case rate was 50.04 per 100,000 and the previous week it had been 55.31 percent.

On Aug. 11, the case rate was 39.86 per 100,000.

Cascade County COVID numbers still high

On Aug. 4, it was 20.7 per 100,000.

The peak of local cases was November 2020 and the case rate was 227 per 100,000, though it was partly that high due to a reporting backlog.

That came down to 98 per 100,000 on Dec. 1, 2020.

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There has been one new COVID-19 related death in the county over the last week, bringing the total to 199, according to CCHD.

A significant number of the new cases have been in those 40 or younger, according to CCHD.

There have been 62 new breakthrough cases over the last week, bringing the total to 426 since February when the state started tracking them.

Breakthrough cases are those when people test positive for COVID-19 after two weeks have elapsed since their final vaccine dose.

There were 13 new variant cases over the last week, bringing the total to 193 since February when the state started tracking variants.

The state lab conducts sequencing on positive COVID samples. The state sets the criteria for the samples selected for variant sequencing, typically those from breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, deaths and others randomly selected, according to CCHD and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Local COVID working group meeting to coordinate efforts for ongoing pandemic response

According to the Sept. 13 update from the state, Benefis Health System has 39 COVID and 194 non-COVID patients hospitalized, leaving 8 beds available. There were 7 COVID and 13 non-COVID patients in the ICU, leaving one bed available. Seven COVID and 11 non-COVID patients were on ventilators, leaving 8 available.

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Benefis officials said this week that they are not reducing their capacity based on staffing and while there are daily fluctuations in staff levels, there has been no significant reduction in staff. They said that they are seeing unvaccinated patients getting sicker and that most of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.

At Great Falls Clinic, there were six COVID and 13 non-COVID patients hospitalized, leaving no beds available.

According to Great Falls Clinic, they can go up to a total of 36 beds for a surge “in extreme situations. We are currently at capacity.”

As of Sept. 13, there had been 65,760 total doses of the vaccine administered in Cascade County and 32,518 people, or 47 percent of the eligible population were fully immunized, according to the state.

On. Sept. 13, Great Falls Public Schools announced that Great Falls High School was going remote for the remainder of the week due to 35 positive COVID cases being identified at the school among teachers and students.

According to a Sept. 10 state update, 33 percent of those aged 12-17 had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The numbers in the GFPS weekly update, on Fridays, differed from a state report that included cases through Sept. 10.

The district’s data is the number of confirmed COVID positive cases in the district for employees or students. That information is validated by school nurses and shares with CCHD, according to Superintendent Tom Moore.

Trisha Gardner, county health officer, said that there’s a reporting delay from the county to the state as “we do have to get the information about schools entered into the disease reporting system.”

Gardner said that the district has “the most timely and current data necessary for determining mitigation strategies such as closures.”