MISSOULA — Missoula County set a record on Saturday with 157 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) also notes on Tuesday, 121 new cases were recorded bringing Missoula County just 31 cases shy of passing its record for active cases recorded at 1,217 on Nov. 21, 2020.
"If this trend continues, Missoula County will likely break its record high of active cases Wednesday morning," a news release states.
Despite having the highest vaccination rate in the state, Health Officer D’Shane Barnett says not enough residents have stepped up to help with herd immunity, especially younger age groups.
“Just over 52% of 20 to 29-year-olds have received at least one shot, which is nowhere near herd immunity,” explains Barnett. “It is no coincidence that this age group is making up the majority of our cases right now.”
Health officials also are asking people to do their part when it comes to other basic mitigation measures since the health department no longer has the authority to put many of the measures that slowed the spread last year into place.
“We’re getting troubling calls from employees who say their employers have asked them to come to work despite testing positive for COVID-19, having symptoms or being identified as a close contact. That will only exasperate the situation further,” COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr stated.
Health officials say are looking to ease the pressure on Missoula’s hospital system. A total of 40 patients were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on Tuesday including 24 county residents.
"Business owners can voluntarily reduce capacity at their businesses, ask patrons to wear masks, practice social distancing, increase sanitization and ask employees to stay home when sick," according to the news release.
MCCHD adds people can wear masks in public, keep their social circles small, wash their hands frequently and also stay home when sick.
Missoula County's record case count comes as Providence St. Patrick Hospital is informing the public that COVID-19 patients are now being triaged in the ambulance bay.
A social media post from the hospital states:
"Providence St. Pat's Emergency Department physician, Dr. Dan Pierce, says the overwhelming number of unvaccinated patients with COVID are being triaged in the ambulance bay. Our message: GET VACCINATED!"
The Montana COVID-19 state tracking map shows a total of 11,907 cases have been recorded in Missoula County including 10,724 recoveries and 116 deaths. The latest Missoula County COVID-19 information can be found here