The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has reported to KGVO News that the COVID-19 Omicron Variant is spreading throughout the state.

Communicable Disease Epidemiology Supervisor for Montana Magdalena Scott provided details on Monday afternoon.

“Omicron is here, and we are detecting it in 17 different counties now,” said Scott. “And we expect that number to increase. We have seen an increase in cases in the last week. So things had kind of started to settle down through November and into December. We were averaging a little over 1,000 cases per week until that last week of December, however last week, we added over 2,400 cases in just one week.”

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Scott said the Omicron is gaining, but there are still many new Delta variant cases still being reported.

“We are seeing some Delta cases as well in the sequencing that we're doing so it's not all Omicron yet but every day the state public health lab is testing positive stuff and we're just starting to see more and more Omicron as it looks like it's beginning to take over,” she said.

One hopeful sign is the introduction of oral medications, however, Scott said they are not widely available throughput the state, and specifically, not yet in Missoula.

“There is an oral antiviral that's been approved by the FDA,” she said. “We did receive a small amount of that oral antiviral last week.  I believe our medical director was working on distributing those and I also believe we're expected to get some more this week.”

Scott said a little over half of all eligible Montanans have been vaccinated against COVID 19.

“53 percent of eligible Montanans, so that's Montanans, five and older,” she said. “53 percent of them have been fully vaccinated against COVID,” she said. “We are also recommending that folks go out and get their booster dose if they are fully vaccinated. If you got your Pfizer shot at least six months ago, then you're eligible for a booster. If you got the Johnson and Johnson vaccination two months ago, then you're eligible for a booster as well.”

KGVO specifically asked Scott if there have been any deaths in Montana due to the Omicron variant, and she said there have been no deaths reported as in Monday afternoon.

 

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