Three new fatalities related to COVID-19 have occurred in Butte-Silver Bow, the county’s Health Department announced Monday.
One additional fatality has occurred at Butte’s Copper Ridge Health and Rehab skilled nursing facility, 3251 Nettie, bringing the facility’s fatality count to four. A fatality also has been reported at The Springs at Butte assisted living facility, 300 Mount Highland Dr. The fatality is the facility’s first. The Health Department also announced the fatality of a Butte-Silver Bow resident.
The fatalities bring to a total of 18 Butte-Silver Bow residents who have died thus far of the virus, said Health Officer Karen Sullivan. “Our thoughts are with the families of these county residents,” Sullivan said, “as well as the residents and staff of the facilities where deaths have occurred.”
Butte’s Continental Care and Rehabilitation, 2400 Continental Dr., previously announced the deaths of 12 residents, related to COVID-19.
Almost 89 percent of Montana’s 72 long-term care facilities have reported 1,079 positive cases. As of Nov. 5, about 65 percent of these facilities were reporting 706 active cases. As of the same date, the state of Montana was reporting 79 fatalities from the state’s long-term facilities. Montana has 210 assisted living facilities.
As of Nov. 5, 99 percent of these facilities had reported 942 positive cases, with 609 of those cases being reported active as of that date. The state’s assisted living facilities had reported 69 deaths as of Nov. 5. In addition to announcing the fatalities, the Health Department on Monday released its weekly data report and a related dashboard.
As of late Sunday, Nov. 15, the Health Department was reporting a total of 1,528 positive cases of COVID-19, since the county received news of its first positive case March 13.
As of Monday, the county was estimating 599 active cases.
For the week of Nov. 7-13, the county saw 493 new cases, averaging 70.43 positive cases per day, or 201 cases per 100,000 population.
“Anything more than 25 cases per 100,000 population is deemed to be in the red zone by the Harvard Global Health Institute,” Sullivan said. “As a community, we have work to do to adjust this metric downward.”
Sullivan said the department’s data show that more than 1,200 people were identified as close contacts to the 493 newly confirmed cases.
“This metric continues to increase,” Sullivan said. “We are asking for the general public to limit the number of people they’re in contact with, whenever possible.”
The Health Department also reported a positivity rate for Butte-Silver Bow of 22.7 percent, also a “red zone” score, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“By the CMS definition, we should be below 10 percent, and preferably under 5 percent,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan reported that the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to be detected in the county’s wastewater.
“The wastewater sample taken Nov. 10 at Metro Sewer has a higher concentration level of the virus than 99 percent of all quantifiable samples taken nationwide in the last six weeks” by Biobot, a Massachusetts-based company that analyzes viruses, bacteria and chemical metabolites that are excreted in urine and stool collected in sewers, Sullivan said.
On Nov. 10, Sullivan issued orders establishing new restrictions in Butte-Silver Bow, in an attempt to limit public interaction. Under the orders, businesses move to 50 percent capacity, gatherings of more than 25 people need to be approved by the Health Department, and establishments serving alcohol are closed at 10 p.m.
“We are asking people to stay home as much as possible so that we can get our community on a different trajectory,” Sullivan said. “It is an incredible sacrifice, especially for many folks economically, and we sincerely appreciate all efforts to limit interaction. The virus loves people being together, and we are trying to thwart it.” Sullivan said Health Department staff will review county COVID-19 data Dec. 1 and possibly adjust the restrictions.