KALISPELL — COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Flathead County with 137 active cases of the virus reported on Monday.
“We’re seeing the Delta variant here; we don’t know to what extent yet," Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell told MTN News.
Russell said new variants of COVID-19 are leading to an uptick in active cases in Flathead County which currently leads the entire state of Montana in active cases of the virus.
Russell said the new Delta variant is highly contagious.
“They’ve identified through genetic sequencing that we have the Delta strain, the variant, in Flathead County, we don’t know how much, but you know we’ve had three identified cases that their specimens have gone on to the State of Montana." - Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell
Despite the record number of tourists visiting Flathead County, Russell said the majority of active cases are Flathead residents. He added most new cases are occurring in clusters during large gatherings or events.
“Someone would have to be on vacation here for several days, become symptomatic and look for a testing site, so you know predominately it’s Flathead County residents we’re seeing in our new cases pop up,” said Russell.
He noted the COVID-19 vaccine is the best defense against the virus and new emerging variants.
“What we’re seeing now with the variants shouldn’t stop anyone from understanding how important it is to go ahead and get vaccinated, the alignments with the vaccines and the variants is really still very strong,” said Russell.
He said the county is starting to see another uptick in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, "this increase has been pretty steady, so very concerning to me and our staff."
Russell says 43% of the eligible population in Flathead County has received at least one dose of the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine appointments and walk-in dates are available at the Flathead City-County Health Department.
Russell said Bias Brewing in downtown Kalispell will be hosting a pop-up vaccination clinic from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 22.
There have been 12,691 CO.VID-19 cases confirmed in Flathead County including 12,447 recoveries and 107 deaths