KALISPELL — The Flathead City-County Health Department is reporting two additional COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the county total to 23.
Fifteen of the deaths have been associated with residential care facilities. FCCHD reports that to date, 13 residential care facilities have dealt or are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
One of the deaths reported on Thursday occurred at the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
The patient, a resident of Flathead County, passed away on Saturday, Sept. 26.
This is the first COVID-19 related death at the facility. To protect the privacy of the deceased and their family, DPHHS will not release further information.
As of Oct. 8, a total of 24 COVID-19 cases have been identified at MVH since the first case was identified on Aug. 5. Of the total cases, DPHHS reports six staff and one resident are considered active.
Local public health officials are urging vulnerable populations to think critically before venturing in public settings.
During contact tracing investigations of recent cases, FCCHD is seeing high rates of COVID-19 transmission related to public spaces such as events, restaurants, bars, and, social gatherings.
Additionally, a recent statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, typically occurring in enclosed spaces.
“We’re seeing an increase of cases associated with social events and time spent in public places,” FCCHD Interim Health Officer Tamalee St James Robinson said in a statement. , “There are cases throughout the county associated with office lunches, restaurants, weddings, and birthday parties. As a community, we need to think carefully and make smart decisions before we decide to attend an event or go to public spaces like restaurants and bars, particularly if you are part of a vulnerable population. Indoor events are particularly risky.”
The following groups of people may be at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19:
- People over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- People with underlying medical conditions
“Now more than ever our community needs to take these precautions seriously,” Robinson said. “Events such as Halloween are approaching and it going to be vital that we find safer ways to celebrate. Follow the general public health precautions such as wear a mask, stay home if you are ill, and wash your hands. In addition, avoid large events and gatherings including costume parties and group trick or treating. We all have a role in keeping our schools and business open and our most vulnerable loved ones safe.”
Safer ways to celebrate Halloween can be found on the CDC website.
An additional 98 COVID-19 cases were reported in Flathead County on Thursday morning as well as nearly 900 active cases.