COVID-19 Cases Continue to Shatter Records in Flathead County

County health department reported at least 50 new cases three times, including single-day record of 81 new confirmed cases on Friday

By Andy Viano
Medical staff administer free drive-through COVID-19 testing at Polson High School on June 19, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The largest COVID-19 outbreak in Flathead County continued to expand last week, with a record-shattering 303 new cases confirmed between Sept. 19-25 as the number of people hospitalized doubled over that same period.

According to the latest numbers reported by the Flathead City-County Health Department, the county obliterated its single-day infection record with 81 new reported cases on Sept. 25, and listed 12 people as currently hospitalized.

Before Sept. 20, Flathead County had never received notification of more than 40 positive tests in a single day. Since then it has happened three times. The county’s numbers showed 50 new infections on Sept. 20, another 59 on Sept. 24, and then the 81 on Sept. 25. The county’s total number of coronavirus positives since the pandemic began is at 1,296, with 653 (50.4%) of those in September alone. Only six people were hospitalized in Flathead County as recently as Sept. 21.

The state coronavirus task force and the county health department almost never report the same case daily numbers, a difference blamed on reporting delays and a staff shortage at the county level. For example, the state has tallied 368 new cases in Flathead County in September, less than 60% of the county’s number.

Two weeks ago (Sept. 12-18), the county reported 210 new infections, then an all-time high. The outbreak was initially blamed on large gatherings over the Labor Day weekend and, to a lesser degree, the reopening of schools for in-person learning.

Sixteen Flathead County residents have died as a result of COVID-19, including 11 connected to an outbreak at Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation.

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