HELENA — Lewis & Clark County is now considered an area of substantial community transmission for COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Based on guidance from the CDC, Lewis & Clark Public Health (LCPH) recommends all individuals wear a face covering when in public indoor areas, regardless of their vaccination status.
LCPH Health Officer Drenda Niemann said the community must once again come together to ensure cases don’t rise higher.
“We’re in a different place now with the pandemic. The Delta variant causes more severe illness and spreads much more easily. People know what to do – practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, and wash their hands,” she said. “But the most important thing individuals can do to prevent the spread or effects of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, then help your family and friends get vaccinated. It’s the only way to stop this pandemic.”
Montana recently surpassed 1,000 active COVID cases for the first time since mid-May. Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with the State of Montana reporting 106 active hospitalizations on Friday, an increase of 31 from last Friday, July 23. This is the first time Montana’s active hospitalizations had passed 100 since February.
Following the recent national surge of COVID-19 cases linked to the COVID-19 Delta variant in the United States, the CDC now recommends people living in areas of substantial or high transmission wear masks indoors when in public - regardless of their vaccination status. Data indicates the Delta variant spreads much easier than previous variants and can cause more severe illness.
Data presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated COVID-19 vaccines offer high effectiveness at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from the Delta variant. However, even vaccinated individuals can spread the Delta variant. That’s why LCPH says universal masking in indoor public places is once again important regardless of vaccine status.
CDC levels of community transmission are based on two indicators, including cumulative cases per 100,000, or a cumulative test positivity rate in the last seven days. There are four levels: low, moderate, substantial, and high. More information can be found on the CDC’s Data Tracker at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home.
LCPH is working to incorporate this data into their COVID-19 Hub and Decision Making Dashboard, a process which we expect will be completed early next week.