County COVID numbers remain low; Benefis marking two years since first COVID hospitalization

The county’s COVID numbers remained low this week and the community transmission level has been downgraded to low, according to the weekly update from the Cascade County City-County Health Department.

The county added 31 new cases over the last week, bringing the cumulative total to 25,091.

There were two new COVID-related deaths over the last week, bringing the total to 321, according to CCHD.

County’s COVID numbers stay low

The case rate is 5.4 per 100,000, according to CCHD,  continuing the downward trend over recent weeks.

The case rate is the average of daily new cases over a seven day period and is calculated on Wednesdays.

The positivity rate is 5.2 percent.

There were 18 new breakthrough cases over the last week, bringing the cumulative total since February 2021 to 2,849.

A breakthrough case is when a fully vaccinated person tests positive for COVID. According to CCHD and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, a person is considered fully vaccinated after getting the initial series of a vaccine, which is two doses for Pfizer and Moderna and one dose for Johnson and Johnson.

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According to the state, 94,744 doses of vaccines have been administered in Cascade County and 38,181 people, or 50 percent of the eligible population, are fully immunized.

There were two active COVID cases associated with Great Falls Public Schools as of March 22.

As of March 21, there was one unvaccinated COVID patient hospitalized at Benefis Health System and none were in the ICU or on ventilators, according to the hospital.

CCHD said that it would post a poll later this week to gather public opinion on the desired frequency of future COVID reports.

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On March 24, it will be two years since Benefis admitted its first COVID patient.

The hospital is marking the anniversary in two ways.

The hospital has installed a temporary COVID-19 Memorial in the lobby of North Tower from March 21-25.

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Yellow hearts on a field of blue represent people who succumbed to the virus. Benefis invites visitors to view the memorial and take a moment to reflect on all that has happened in the last two years.

“If you lost a loved one to the disease, you are invited to add your person’s name to the memorial. If you are unable to visit the memorial but would like to have your loved one’s name recorded, please visit and staff will write their name and your message on a heart,” according to the hospital.

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The hospital is also lighting the historic 10th Street Bridge on March 24 to honor COVID survivors and the medical teams who fought for them.

“For every patient who died, another eight left the hospital to return to their families, their lives, and their recoveries — thanks to incredible care across Benefis. Each survivor is a reason to celebrate, and so are the healthcare heroes,” according to the hospital.