MISSOULA - As the new BA.2 COVID-19 variant continues to circulate local health departments are watching the numbers in anticipation of the next surge.
Missoula County Health Officer D'Shane Barnett told MTN News that his department is anxious about the surge because they know it will reach Missoula within one or two weeks.
The Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) department may be anxious at this time, but they’re not panicking, according to Barnett.
MCCHD is looking to key indicators as they assess the severity of the oncoming COVID-19 surge.
Average daily new cases per 1,000 people recently reached 11, compared to three daily new cases per 1,000 people just last week.
In considering the county’s wastewater, officials have seen a 325% increase in traceable COVID-19 over the last two weeks.
While BA.2 has already been detected in Missoula County, Barnett says the likelihood of severe illness or hospitalization from the variant is extremely low.
MCCHD reported Wednesday that there were no local COVID-19 related hospitalizations.
“We have been working with providers throughout the county and we are confident that in Missoula County there is testing available, there is vaccine available, there are therapeutics available. We have the tools and the resources to get through this surge and we are confident that we will be okay. We just need to be responsible.” - Missoula County Health Officer D'shane Barnett
Part of Barnett’s call to responsibility includes masking up despite recent mask mandate relaxation. He recommends wearing a face-covering in crowded places.
The latest Missoula County COVID-19 vaccine information can be found online or by calling 406-258-4636.