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COVID Deaths Now at 10 in VC

Schools Experience Slight Influx of Cases

Valley County added 23 positive cases to their COVID-19 totals between Jan. 6 and 11, and a tenth Valley County resident died as a result of contracting the disease.

In a statement released on Jan. 7, the Valley County Health Department said, “Valley County confirms a second death last week [Dec. 27 to Jan. 2] of a man in his 80s from COVID-19 illness and complications. We express deep sympathy to his family and loved ones. We have now lost 10 persons to COVID-19 and its complications.”

The additional cases bring the total number of Valley County lab-confirmed cases to 696. Of those 696, 651 have since recovered and the others are either still active or have passed away. A total of 55 Valley County residents have been hospitalized as a result of contracting the virus according to the Valley County Health Department.

As of Jan. 11, the state of Montana has confirmed 86,653 total cases of COVID-19 in the state. So far 1,057 Montanans have died from the disease with 42 of those deaths occurring between Jan. 6 and Jan. 11. According to the state’s COVID-19 tracking website, there were 4,922 active cases as of Jan. 11 with the majority (1,171) of those cases in Yellowstone County. The county with the second highest numbers of active COVID-19 cases was Lewis and Clark (Helena) which began hosting the state’s biannual legislative session this month.

The schools have also seen a slight influx of cases of COVID-19. According to releases sent Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 from Glasgow Schools Superintendent, Wade Sundby, the school was notified that five students and two staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus. Those numbers are up from just one positive case in a student reported last week on Jan. 7.

So far this school year Glasgow Schools have recorded 75 total cases of COVID-19 among the students and staff. Of those, 68 have recovered and seven are active. They have had to quarantine a total of 193 students and staff so far this school year and as of Jan. 12, 29 were still under quarantine orders due to contacts with positive COVID-19 cases and 160 had been released from quarantine.

Sundby explained that the students and faculty had not attended classes or had any known contact with other students or staff since Jan. 4 or 5, but contact tracing was ongoing. “Working with the Valley County Health Department, we do not need to close down the school at this time,” said Sundby, before adding. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”

The release added: “If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the Valley County Health Department will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, seek out their medical provider for specific instructions. The School District is in contact with the Health Department and reviewing the Centers for Disease Control guidance to complete cleaning the school and other related facilities. The other steps taken by the School District include temp checks, handwashing stations, sanitization of classrooms, and a deep clean of the room(s). Contact Wade Sundby for details about these measures. School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.”

The county has also released information about the COVID-19 vaccination plan. New guidelines from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services have set the prioritization of the vaccine’s distribution. Currently the county is in phase 1A of distribution which focuses on frontline healthcare workers, long-term care and assisted living facilities, and healthcare workers with direct patient contact or virus exposure.

The county health department said in a press release that they may be transitioning to phase 1B of the vaccine distribution plan as early as Jan. 18.

Phase 1B will include persons aged 70 years and older or Persons aged 16 to 69 with high-risk medical conditions including cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, severe obesity (BMI >40 kg/m2), sickle cell disease and type 1 & 2 diabetes mellitus.

On a case-by-case basis, medical providers may include individuals with other conditions that place them at elevated risk for COVID-19 related complications. American Indians or other persons of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications will also be in the group.

“We are still in Phase 1A. Once we are notified of the expected arrival date of COVID-19 vaccine for Phase 1B, we will plan your vaccination clinics,” said the VCHD in the same release. “Screening and administration of this vaccine has several safety measures to be followed with a 15 to 30-minute monitoring time required after vaccination.”


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