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COVID-19

More COVID-19 Variant Cases Detected In Montana

A transmission electron microscopic image of the coronavirus from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV.
CDC/Public Domain
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A transmission electron microscopic image of the coronavirus from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV.

Ten more cases linked to variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been identified in Montana since last week, including two cases in Missoula County. Health officials there say they are more concerned about a renewed rise in cases.

Health officials are asking the public to stay diligent with masking, hand washing and physical distancing until more people get vaccinated following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s confirmation of a total of 29 cases caused by variants since January.

The state this week announced new cases of variants in Liberty, Missoula, Phillips, Roosevelt and Silver Bow counties, and previously in Beaverhead, Cascade, Gallatin, Glacier, Hill, Jefferson, Madison and Valley counties.

Some of the variants are more contagious and cause more severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy said in a press release Wednesday that after two months of declining COVID-19 cases in Missoula County, cases there are “moving in the wrong direction.” The number of tests that came back positive for COVID-19 jumped 2% in the past week.

Missoula County is also reporting more hospitalizations in younger populations. In the past week, three of the eight county residents hospitalized are in their 20s, four are in their 60s and one patient is over 70.

Active COVID-19 hospitalizations in Montana have been trending down in recent weeks, with around 70 people per day in early March to around 50 people by the third week.

During the surge of COVID-19 cases in November, active hospitalizations peaked with a little over 500 in one day.