Downtrend in Missoula COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations

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The downward trend continues in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations for Missoula County, according to Missoula City Health Department Director D’Shane Barnett.

KGVO contacted Barnett on Friday afternoon for a weekend update.

“We continue our downtrends today,” Manager Barnett said. “Our average number of new daily cases is now down to five. We want to be under 10, which we absolutely are and we’ve also seen our hospitalizations go up a bit this week. So right now we have three residents of Missoula County hospitalized and one non-resident of Missoula County hospitalized with COVID.

Barnett was asked about a new COVID-19 Omicron variant that has made its way to the US East Coast.

“The problem with it being a subvariant is that Omicron has infected a lot of people around the world and here in Missoula, including me, and if you’ve been infected with Omicron , you have a very high resistance to its Omicron BA-2 subvariant, so what we’re seeing in New England is that even though it absolutely infects people, it doesn’t cause serious illness and hospitalization in the same way as the original Omicron wave.

Barnett said there are still many in Missoula County observing all COVID-19 safety protocols despite declining numbers.

“I think we have people who either with pre-existing health conditions or their own sense of public health are really continuing all of these healthy behaviors,” he said. “Masking, they get vaccinated or boosted. In fact, Moderna has now requested permission for a fourth hit or second encore and it’s not yet available but likely will be in the near future.

Barnett said there are plenty of ways to safely enjoy spring and summer in western Montana.

“As the weather warms up, if you want to get out and hit the back roads, there’s absolutely no reason to worry,” he said. “You can go hiking, biking, swimming, fishing or all kinds of activities. We’re on the cusp of spring and we’re able to do all of these things safely, and I just think we’re going to have a great summer.

Barnett said just over 64% of Missoula County residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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