Montana reported 363 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 37 more of its residents have died from the respiratory virus.
The deaths added in the latest update mark the largest daily increase in January, with 170 recorded so far this month. The number of active cases in the state is currently at 4,583, according to the state’s mapping and tracking website. Information for the site is compiled by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.
DPHHS spokesperson Jon Ebelt told the Gazette via email that the 37 deaths reported Saturday are due in part to the department "reconciling death records with local jurisdictions from the past several weeks. That and newly reported deaths."
The number of deaths nationwide related to COVID-19 have surpassed 400,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and that number could reach half a million within a month. President Joe Biden spent his second day in office signing several executive orders aimed at cutting the number of infections, the Associated Press reported, and vaccinating 100 million Americans during his administration’s first 100 days.
Gov. Greg Gianforte, during a press conference Friday, said that nearly 14,000 Montanans had been fully vaccinated. The number follows the first week of counties throughout the state entering Phase 1B of its vaccination plan. About a quarter of the state’s entire population qualifies to receive a vaccination under Phase 1B. According to a summary provided by the state’s DPHHS, over 60,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered in the state as of Wednesday.
Gianforte said during Friday’s press conference that federal health authorities have promised deliveries to Montana of at least 13,000 new first doses every week.
The number of daily infections in Montana has dropped substantially compared to the daily counts that peaked in November, and the number of deaths reported in January make up about 15% of the total in the state since the start of the pandemic.
Missoula County, which the Missoulian reported is set to begin Phase 1B vaccinations next week, tallied 14 of the 37 deaths in Saturday’s update. A total of 74 Missoula County residents have died due to COVID-19. Lewis and Clark County added eight more deaths, with 58 total, and Judith Basin County reported its first death.
Other counties that added COVID-19 deaths to the state website Saturday included:
• Blaine with one (24 people total)
• Musselshell with one (eight people total)
• Powder River with one (six people total)
• Custer with two (14 people total)
• Golden Valley with two (two people total)
• Stillwater with two (12 people total)
• Fergus with five (19 people total)
A total of 141 people are currently hospitalized because of the virus, bringing the total number of hospitalizations since March to 4,112. A snapshot report from the Montana DPHHS showed that 70% or more of the beds in six of the state’s 10 largest hospitals were occupied with patients, COVID-19 or otherwise. Half of those hospitals reported limited ICU space.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Montana, 91,410 of its residents have tested positive for the virus as of Saturday. Of those, 85,686 people are considered to be recovered, meeting the standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for an individual to safely leave isolation after contracting COVID-19. That does not necessarily mean that symptoms of the virus, like fatigue and loss of smell, do not still linger.
The state completed another 6,989 tests Saturday, with the overall total now at 906,753.
Counties added the following number of cases in Saturday’s update:
• Flathead County with 61 cases (670 active)
• Gallatin County with 52 cases (384 active)
• Rosebud County with 46 cases (81 active)
• Yellowstone County with 42 cases (978 active)
• Missoula County with 30 cases (346 active)
• Lewis and Clark County with 22 cases (352 active)
• Lincoln County with 19 cases (112 active)
• Silver Bow County with 17 cases (135 active)
• Big Horn County with 13 cases (133 active)
• Cascade County with eight cases (545 active)
• Richland County with seven cases (15 active)
• Blaine County with five cases (seven active)
• Roosevelt County with five cases (23 active)
• Dawson County with four cases (18 active)
• Lake County with four cases (86 active)
• Custer County with three cases (27 active)
• Deer Lodge County with three cases (48 active)
• Ravalli County with three cases (46 active)
• Stillwater County with three cases (eight active)
• Teton County with three cases (25 active)
• Broadwater County with two cases (21 active)
• Jefferson County with two cases (42 active)
• McCone County with two cases (four active)
• Park County with two cases (85 active)
• Carbon County with one case (17 active)
• Glacier County with one case (28 active)
• Hill County with one case (20 active)
• Pondera County with one case (17 active)
• Sanders County with one case (nine active)
• Granite County with one case (14 active)
• McCone County with one case (three active)
• Phillips County with one case (19 active)
• Sanders County with one case (16 active)
• Toole County with one case (eight active)