Lewis & Clark County seeing record COVID-19 test positivity rate

COVID testing at St. Peter's Health
Posted at 2:49 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 16:50:09-04

HELENA — Positive COVID-19 tests hit a record high last week in Lewis and Clark County according to public health officials. Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) say 26% of people tested were diagnosed with the virus, about a 12% increase from the previous week.

On the morning of Oct. 13, there were 34 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at St. Peter's Health. They saw a record number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saturday, Oct. 9 with 44. St. Peter’s says even though the number has decreased, it still surpasses their record total until just a week ago.

The Intensive Care Unite (ICU) and Advanced Medical Unit (AMU) are 100% full. Six out of the eight patients in the ICU are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

St. Peter’s Home Oxygen team set up seven patients on Tuesday alone due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. This brings their total to over 80 community members currently on home oxygen due to COVID-19.

By comparison, in the first wave many patients required supplemental home oxygen for two-to-three weeks, they are now seeing some patients on home oxygen for two-to-three months.

The hospital has also converted beds in their same day services unit (outpatient procedure area) into acute medical beds to care for lower-acuity patients to give us more beds for patients requiring higher acuity care on our regular units.

Officials ask people to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot as winter approaches and hospitals across the state are reaching maximum capacity.

Family Medicine Physician Curtis Blake says history shows what the community could expect if every eligible person got the vaccine. “If you look back at other diseases we’ve vaccinated against, smallpox doesn’t exist anymore because we’ve had a vaccine."

Health care workers say the vaccine doesn’t just help the person getting vaccinated. “It helps protect the person and the community, so I would really encourage people to do it,” said Registered Nurse Jan Magee.