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Montana adds 192 cases of COVID-19, four more deaths
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Montana adds 192 cases of COVID-19, four more deaths

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Montana added 192 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and four more people who have died due to the virus.

The number of active cases in the state rose to 1,736 in the past day, according to an update to Montana’s virus mapping and tracking website. During that same time, 11,120 doses of COVID-19 have been administered to state residents.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Montana has now reached 1,379. Big Horn, Gallatin, Richland and Yellowstone counties each reported an additional death, according to data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The Montana Free Press reported Wednesday that an outbreak at a long-term care facility in Livingston has led to at least 29 positive cases among staff and residents, and four deaths since Jan. 28.

Residents and staff of assisted living and long-term care facilities fell into first group to receive vaccines, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan. The Montana Free Press reported that over 80% of the residents at Livingston Health and Rehabilitation Center received at least one dose. The virus has led to at least 476 deaths associated with assisted living and long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic.

The number of Montana residents who have received both doses of the two available vaccines reached 105,977 on Friday. Starting next week, the state will both expand on those eligible to receive the vaccine, and begin administering the recently approved single dose vaccine from Johnson and Johnson. Those eligible for vaccines starting Monday will include those age 60 and older, along with people aged 16-59 who have been diagnosed with illnesses that make them vulnerable to the virus.

The number of those hospitalized in Montana due to COVID-19 dropped Friday to 67. In total, 4,610 people have filled hospital beds in the state since the first positive case nearly a year ago.

The state has tallied 100,656 positive cases since March 2020. Of those, 97,541 are considered to be recovered, meeting the standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an individual to safely leave isolation.

Montana completed another 7,762 more tests for COVID-19 in the past day, with a total of 1,096,913.

Counties added the following number of cases in Friday’s update:

• Gallatin with 43 (214 active)

• Flathead with 26 (227 active)

• Yellowstone with 24 (569 active)

• Silver Bow with 17 (57 active)

• Lewis and Clark with 15 (80 active)

• Missoula with 12 (95 active)

• Ravalli with seven (53 active)

• Custer with four (nine active)

• Lake with four (44 active)

• Deer Lodge with three (12 active)

• Fergus with three (four active)

• Jefferson with three (19 active)

• Richland with three (nine active)

• Sanders with three (nine active)

• Beaverhead with two (six active)

• Broadwater with two (six active)

• Cascade with two (62 active)

• Lincoln with two (21 active)

• Madison with two (35 active)

• Mineral with two (five active)

• Roosevelt with two (15 active)

• Stillwater with two (three active)

• Big Horn with one (22 active)

• Park with one (34 active)

• Sheridan with one (three active)

Fully vaccinated Americans may soon be able to socialize without masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is finalizing its first set of recommendations as the number of vaccines administered passes 80 million. "I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated, and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated and maybe a next-door neighbor who is doubly vaccinated. Small gatherings in the home, the relative risk is so low that you would not have to wear a mask that you could have a good social gathering within the home," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top expert on infectious diseases, during a briefing on Monday.A full return to normal is unlikely right away. The CDC is expected to recommend fully vaccinated people still wear masks and socially distance in public spaces out of caution they may still transmit the virus.New cases and hospitalizations have declined steadily since January, but this week CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned the drop might be stalling. She urged Americans not to travel.Its unclear what the travel guidance might be for the 27 million Americans, now fully vaccinated."Please hear me clearly, at this level of cases with variants spreading we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," Dr. Walensky told reporters on Monday.  According to the CDC, the U.S. current 7-day average for new COVID cases is plateauing at around 60,000 a day, the lowest since October. And there may be some changes coming for teenagers and children, too. Pfizer's vaccine is already cleared for use in teens age 16 and older. And both Pfizer and Moderna are now running clinical trials to test vaccines on children age 12 and older. They expect to release that data this summer. 

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