Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The COVID-19 pandemic officially ended on May 5, 2023, after the World Health Organization declared an end to the Global Public Health Emergency.

However, according to officials with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, COVID is still very much with us, according to the most recent numbers.

COVID is No Longer a Pandemic but there are Still About 4 Deaths a Week

KGVO spoke with Trisha Gardner, Immunization Supervisor, and Samantha Saycich, Communicable Disease Epidemiologist with DPHHS on Thursday about the most recent numbers in Montana.

“We're averaging about 39 new hospital admissions a week due to COVID-19; 171 emergency department visits a week and about four deaths a week and these numbers are from October 1 through December 16,” began Saycich. “So, this is most recent as of Saturday so, these are recent numbers and I think it does show the burden of COVID-19 in Montana.”

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The DPHHS Recently Issued a New Respiratory Disease Alert

Saycich said the State Health Department recently issued an alert to urge more immunizations throughout the state.

“We did just put out a Health Alert Network, and those are called HANs, terms that can be used interchangeably but we did just put out some messaging about an urgent need to increase immunization coverage for respiratory disease,” she said. “So this would be for COVID-19, for influenza, and for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). These are the three most common conditions we see during respiratory seasons. So that's from about October 1 through the first week of June every year.”

Back during the COVID pandemic, when a person tested positive, they were required to follow isolation procedures, which are still highly recommended today.

The DPHHS still Strongly Recommends that You Self Isolate if you Test Positive

“For the first five full days, you're going to isolate at home and away from others,” she said. “You're going to want to avoid using any shared spaces like kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Avoid sharing linens like bath towels and then avoid sharing any other personal items. This is pretty much our golden rule for all communicable diseases. If you have a fever, definitely stay away from others until it's been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.”

The Montana DPHHS is planning to introduce a new online dashboard charting the numbers of COVID, Influenza, and RSV cases within the next few days so that Montanans can be better informed on the state of respiratory disease in the state.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

Gallery Credit: Stephanie Parker

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