BUTTE — The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department confirmed nine additional COVID-19-related fatalities in the community. Two of those deaths had been reported yesterday by MTN News.
The recent deaths occurred at Beehive Homes of Butte, 2930 Elm, with three fatalities, the facility’s first deaths related to COVID-19.
Deaths also occurred at Copper Ridge Health and Rehab, with five fatalities, and in the community at large, with one fatality.
COVID-19 fatalities had previously been announced at Copper Ridge, Crest Nursing Home, Continental Care and Rehabilitation, the Springs at Butte, and within the community itself.
The deaths bring to a total of 35 COVID-19-related fatalities in Butte-Silver Bow.
“We are thinking of the families of these Butte-Silver Bow residents and extend our heartfelt sympathies,” Butte-Silver Bow Health Officer Karen Sullivan said Monday.
Announcement of the fatalities came on the same day the Health Department released its weekly data report, showing 282 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county for the week of Nov. 21-to-Nov. 27, down from 419 cases the previous week.
“We are hoping that this decline in cases is indicative of the restrictions recently implemented by the Health Department and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock,” Sullivan said.
Those restrictions include 50 percent capacity and 10 p.m. closing times at restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos; limitations on public gatherings and events to 25 individuals where social distancing is not possible; and a requirement to wear face coverings in public places.
Butte-Silver Bow’s restrictions mirror the governor’s, which are binding statewide. However, Sullivan said she and Health Department staff on Monday reviewed various COVID19 metrics to determine whether the restrictions locally need to be tightened.
“Our review does not indicate a need to tighten the restrictions, though some metrics are concerning to us,” she said.
For the week of Nov. 21 to Nov. 27, an average of 50 new cases of COVID-19 was confirmed daily in Butte-Silver Bow; cases per 100,000 population for the week were 142.
For that particular metric – cases per 100,000 – Butte-Silver Bow is higher than any of the other populous counties in Montana – Cascade, Yellowstone, Missoula, Lewis & Clark, Gallatin, Flathead and Ravalli.
The Harvard Global Health Institute indicates that any figure more than 25 cases per 100,000 population puts a community into a “red zone” in which precautionary measures are strongly advised.
For the time period of Nov. 5-to Nov. 18, Butte-Silver Bow’s test positivity rate was 31.4% –- only two of the more populous counties, Flathead at 37.2% and Ravalli at 38.5% -– have positivity rates higher than Butte-Silver Bow’s.
The U.S Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says positivity rates of more than 10% put a community into that “red zone” for concern.
“These two metrics are what we will continue to look at on a weekly basis to ensure that the restrictions we have in place are sufficient,” Sullivan said.
A bright note in the data report –- along with a decline in positive cases -– are the number of close contacts associated with those cases. For the week of Nov. 21 to Nov. 27 the number of close contacts identified by the Health Department was 482, a decline from the previous two weeks.
“The Health Department and Board of Health want to thank the community of Butte-Silver Bow,” Sullivan said. “Thank you, thank you for limiting your contacts.”