A new record of COVID 19 case hospitalizations was set over the weekend, according to Missoula City County Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.

“Unfortunately, we have more individuals hospitalized now than we ever have as a result of COVID, which means they're in there either directly because of COVID or COVID is actively contributing to them being in the hospital,” said Barnett. “And so, as of today, that number reached 50. And that's more than it's ever gotten to before.”

In addition, 1,386 residents currently have the virus and the average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days reached a new height of 89.

Barnett said both Missoula hospitals are full to capacity.

“Our hospitals actually have now for about the last week or two really been stretched as far as their personnel capacity,” he said. “The issue is that you need people to take care of people and our health system both at St. Pat's and Community Medical Center is just strained, and we have way too many sick people in the hospital than we have the manpower and personnel to adequately treat them.”

Barnett said the Health Department’s website has recorded interviews with hospital personnel who described the difficulties involved with treating COVID 19 patients.

“We're trying to reach the younger population, so we've recorded Tik Tok and Instagram reels where we have gone to St. Pat's to actually ask some of the healthcare workers there to do just that,” he said. “So absolutely, if that's what it takes them to hear from the people who are actually on the front lines doing this work, then let's get those people out in front of them.”

Barnett said he simply can’t understand why the issue of getting and keeping people healthy has become so politicized.

“This is the first time in my lifetime and in my career that this has been a political issue,” he said. “What we need to do is go back to the root of who we are as a community and that is we don't let our friends and neighbors die needlessly. So let's come together and let's act regardless of political affiliation, religious affiliation, race, gender, who cares? Let's all come together and work together to make Montana safe and healthy.”

Health officials say herd immunity would be upwards of 75% of all residents getting vaccinated. In addition to getting vaccinated, residents should wear a mask in public, wash their hands and keep their social circles small. These mitigation measures are proven to be effective at slowing the spread.

69.2 percent of Missoula County residents ages 12 and up have had at least one dose. 63.7 percent of those 12 and over are fully immunized.

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Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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