Covid in the county

A significant September for COVID-19 spread

September saw a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in Madison County according to county Public Health Director Emilie Sayler who provided two weeks of virus-related data to Madison County Commissioners on Oct. 5.

Covid-related deaths in the county have risen to nine, a number Sayler expects to increase as soon as she’s gone over a recently received Department of Public Health and Human Services report which includes number of recent death certificates that appear to be covid-related, “but may not have been recorded appropriately,” Sayler stated.

September was a busy month for the county’s public health department, which tallied 20% of its total covid cases, since the pandemic began, in the month’s last 28 days. During that time 210 new Madison County cases were confirmed with the sickest patients being unvaccinated residents in their 50s and 60s.

On many days during case follow-ups the MCPHD found one in five individuals suffering from the effects of the virus have reported going to the emergency room for treatment. More than a handful of callers to the health department in recent weeks have suffered with breathing problems, low blood oxygen levels and dehydration so severe they’ve been urged to head to the ER immediately.

Sayler attributed the spike in covid cases to the start to the school year. All five schools in the county have experienced outbreaks this school year, which recently prompted districts to request an updated quarantine process that would keep students in school. The MCPHD board and county commissioners approved a measure which would, rather than sending close contacts home, require them to wear masks for two weeks.

Sayler said she’s met with two school boards who have declined the masking option, opting to implement more testing and sending home symptomatic students instead. To do so educators are being schooled on current covid symptoms. Sayler explained that fevers were once a common indicator of a student with a covid infection, but youth are now presenting more frequently with runny noses, headaches and fatigue.

The current outbreak being experienced by the 25-resident Tobacco Root Medical Care Center in Sheridan is directly related to a school outbreak, said Sayler. On Oct. 4 TRMCC had four staff and five residents in quarantine following positive covid tests. According to TRMCC Administrator Gail Nelson the center has a 100% vaccination rate for residents, and those that tested positive have experienced mild symptoms.

Madison Valley Manor in Ennis was not in outbreak status as of Oct. 4.

A commission meeting attendee wondered, has the health department seen any cases in which someone has had covid, gotten vaccinated and then caught a variant? Sayler wasn’t aware of that scenario being identified but did note in the last couple months her office has seen a number of re-infections as well as a number of vaccinated individuals who have tested positive and experienced mild symptoms.

“What we’re really looking at now is that our hospitals are overwhelmed, and our healthcare workers are overwhelmed,” said Sayler, who highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated to not necessarily prevent every infection, covid or otherwise, but to minimize symptoms that lead to a trip to the ER. “They’re pretty traumatized from the work that they’ve experienced over the last year, and it’s not letting up.”

COVID-19 by the numbers as of Oct. 4

Madison County: 46% of eligible population fully vaccinated

Confirmed positives: 1,121, up 125 over last two weeks

Active cases: 76, down 14 over last two weeks

Recovered: 1,037, up 139 over last two weeks

Fatalities: 9, up one over last two weeks

Active hospitalizations: 6, 3 of these in ICU

Total hospitalizations: 86

State of Montana: 53% of eligible population fully vaccinated

Confirmed positives: 153,479, up 13,748 over last two weeks

Active cases: 11,498, up 1,777 over last two weeks

Recovered: 139,959, up 11,836 over last two weeks

Fatalities: 2,022, up 135 over last two weeks

Active hospitalizations: 419

Total hospitalizations: 7,734

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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