KALISPELL — Active COVID-19 cases in Montana are on the rise again - topping 2,700 on Thursday.
This comes as the state releases its weekly report on COVID-19, which shows new data regarding the omicron variant in Montana.
There have been 15 cases linked to the omicron variant which has been found in eight different counties. Those counties are Missoula, Cascade, Gallatin, Glacier, Hill, Jefferson, Pondera, and Yellowstone.
Available data, however, shows the delta variant remains the dominant strain in Montana at this time. While the omicron variant hasn't been confirmed in the Flathead, health officials there are still addressing a rising case count which reached 223 on Thursday.
Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell says the omicron variant is likely spreading through the county with the number of positive cases increasing the past few days.
“We’re seeing an upsurge in cases and I don’t think it’s going to go away in the next few weeks,” Russell told MTN News.
Russell said holiday gatherings and people not practicing proper social distancing methods has probably led to the recent surge.
“I think a lot of the socializing that we’ve done over the last few weeks probably hasn’t helped our cases, but you know that’s kind of how it’s going anymore,” added Russell.
Russell said the Flathead City-County Health Department (FCCHD) is still offering free rapid take home test on a first come first serve basis at the health department office. He also noted that testing is a good way to play it safe ahead of family gatherings.
"We’re going to continue to try and keep as many tests kits in this building for Flathead County residents as we can.”
Russell said the best form of protection against COVID-19 is to become vaccinated. The State of Montana reports only 43% of eligible Flathead County residents are fully immunized.
FCCHD is offering vaccine clinics each Tuesday at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell.
“We operate from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., if they want the certainty of an appointment they can certainly get online and grab an appointment from us, there’s always spots available, but if they want to walk in that’s fine to,” said Russell.
The Montana COVID-19 state tracking map shows there were an additional 83 cases confirmed in Flathead County on Thursday. To date, there have been a total of 21,480 COVID-19 cases in the county including 21,032 recoveries and 225 deaths.
Logan Health in Kalispell reported on Wednesday there were 16 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 — 10 of whom were not vaccinated. Two unvaccinated patients were in the Intensive Care and one was on a ventilator.
The latest information regarding COVID-19 in Flathead County can be found on the FCCHD website.