The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department confirmed Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, three additional COVID-19-related fatalities in the community. All three deaths are associated with members of the community at large, according to Health Officer Karen Sullivan.
With the most recent deaths, Butte-Silver Bow has seen 41 fatalities overall, related to COVID-19.
The Health Department issued its weekly data report Monday. As of Sunday, Dec. 20, the department was reporting 2,840 positive cases in the county, since the county was informed of its first case March 13. Of those, 2,625 have recovered, and 174 cases remain active.
For the week of Dec. 12-18, the Health Department reports 154 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, down 104 cases from the previous week, when 258 new cases were reported.
“Butte-Silver Bow is trending downward very nicely,” Sullivan said Monday. Daily average cases for the week of Dec. 4-11 was 22, down from the previous week’s daily average cases of 37. Cases per 100,000 population for the week of Dec. 12-18 was 63, down from 105 the previous week.
While the metric of cases per 100,000 population is also trending downward, Sullivan said cases per 100,000 should be at 25 or below. For the 158 newly confirmed cases during the week, 314 close contacts were identified.
“This averages to be about two contacts per case, so we are very grateful to community members for limiting their contacts,” Sullivan said. For the time period of Dec. 10-16, the county’s test positivity rate was 13.40 percent, down from 16.70 percent during the previous measured time period. “A smaller percentage of our population is testing positive,” Sullivan said, adding that the Health Department is striving for a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower.
On Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 5 p.m., the Butte-Silver Bow Board of Health will meet to consider a board rule that would establish a local mandate for wearing face coverings in public places, and continue various public health restrictions that are in place in Butte-Silver Bow.
Currently, Butte-Silver Bow falls under Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive making the wearing of face coverings mandatory in public places. Earlier this year, Sullivan issued orders establishing 50 percent capacity in restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos, and 10 p.m. closing times for establishments selling alcohol for on-site consumption.
Sullivan’s orders also required Health Department approval for any gathering of more than 25 people.
Soon after Sullivan issued the orders, Bullock issued a statewide directive mirroring the orders. The new board rule from the Butte-Silver Bow Board of Health would continue these restrictions into the new year.
Sullivan said the restrictions would be lightened after the first of the year if Butte-Silver Bow is able to reach 25 cases per 100,000 population for two consecutive weeks, and a positivity rate of less than 10 percent for two consecutive weeks. The restrictions would move to 75 percent capacity, 12:30 a.m. closing times, and Health Department approval for any gathering of more than 50 people. The face-covering mandate would continue.
The public is encouraged to provide input on the rule and is asked to call during the meeting at 406-497-5009.