BUTTE — The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department announced another death related to the COVID19 virus on Tuesday. The death is the county’s 88th since the COVID-19 event began in Butte-Silver Bow in March 2020. No other information about the death was released at this time.
The fatality comes in the midst of a resurgence of cases in the county and Montana as a whole.
For the epidemiological week of Aug. 7 through Aug. 13, 62 COVID-19 cases were newly confirmed in Butte-Silver Bow. That averages into 8.85 newly confirmed cases daily.
The Health Department confirmed an additional 29 cases over the weekend and into Tuesday morning.
As of Tuesday morning, the department was reporting 65 active cases.
Age ranges for the active cases were 1 to 91. The median age of those cases was 33.5. As of Tuesday morning, five people confirmed as positive with COVID-19 were hospitalized at St. James Healthcare, four of the five are residents of Butte-Silver Bow.
One of the five was in the hospital’s intensive care unit and on a ventilator. None of the hospitalized individuals were vaccinated.
“We continue to message to people to get vaccinated,” Health Officer Karen Sullivan said Tuesday. “Some people are getting very ill, and those getting very ill include those from our younger demographics. We sincerely thank those who’ve already been vaccinated or are in the process.”
Butte-Silver Bow remains at No. 2 in the state for vaccination rate, with 59 percent of its eligible population fully vaccinated. Missoula County remains at No. 1 for vaccination rate, at 62 percent.
“We need to get many, many more people vaccinated in order to secure some type of safety for the community,” Sullivan said. “In the absence of a higher rate of vaccination, we are asking people to take care to mask up in public places and socially distance as much as possible.”
Sullivan said the Health Department continues to plan for the 2021-2022 school year with Butte School District No. 1, Butte Central Catholic Schools, and Montana Technological University. The boards of both K-12 districts have authorized mandatory mask mandates, with those mandates being reviewed routinely. Montana Tech is strongly advising students, staff and faculty to mask indoors during the school year.
The Health Department is using a variety of criteria to evaluate the status of the community and to make recommendations to community stakeholders, including schools. Those criteria include:
- Vaccination rate – the Health Department says the community should strive for a rate of 75 percent to 90 percent.
- Daily new case incidence – Sullivan said an average daily case rate of more than 10 calls for community mitigation, such as masking and distancing
- COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population – this metric should be below 25 cases per 100,000 population. As of Tuesday morning, the community stood at 27.76 cases per 100,000 population.
- Test positivity rate – this rate – the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 over a certain period of time – should be below 10 percent. As of Monday, the community’s positivity rate was at 9.1 percent.
- Community transmission – the CDC rates transmission as low, moderate, substantial, and high. Butte-Silver Bow is currently in a high level of transmission.
“We will routinely review the community’s performance on these criteria so that our stakeholders – our school districts, our businesses, our households – can make good decisions,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said vaccines are widely available, with several pop-up clinics planned as follows:
- Thursday, Aug. 19, Vaccine Sweepstakes event, Butte Civic Center, 1-2:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 19, Naranche Stadium Courtyard, 3-6 p.m. – Butte public school students ages 12 and older vaccinated at this event will be eligible for five $500 awards; the awards will be announced immediately following the vaccination event
- Saturday, Aug. 21, Butte Farmers Market, Park Street in Uptown Butte, 10 a.m.-noon
- Thursday, Aug. 26, Music on Main, 6-8 p.m. The first 50 people to be vaccinated at this event will be given immediate $100 cash awards.
Vaccines are also available at Safeway on Massachusetts; Walgreens; CVS; Walmart; the Medical Arts Pharmacy next to St. James Healthcare; the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department; and Southwest Montana Community Health Center.
The $525,000 Butte-Silver Bow COVID-19 Vaccine Sweepstakes continues. Five winners of two $10,000 awards and three $5,000 awards are announced weekly, with the next announcement scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center. The sweepstakes continue through Sept. 30.
Sullivan said $280,000 has been awarded to 40 individuals since June 24. Butte-Silver Bow residents who are fully vaccinated are automatically entered into the sweepstakes.