Flathead County Community COVID-19 Levels Reach ‘High’ Status

The CDC uses community levels to provide prevention recommendations for residents

By Mike Kordenbrock
COVID-19 antigen rapid test self test kits on Jan. 28, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Community Level in Flathead County for COVID-19 is currently at the “High” designation, according to a July 15 situation report from the Flathead City-County Health Department.

 High is the highest of three levels that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to provide prevention recommendations for residents. The designation puts Flathead County at the same level as most counties in Montana.

At the high level the CDC advises people to wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, and get tested if symptomatic.

The CDC also advises that additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk of severe illness. For people who may fit that criteria, the CDC recommends avoiding non-essential indoor activities, talking with a healthcare provider about if other precautions are needed as well as eligibility for treatments, and having a plan for rapid testing.

As of July 15, Flathead County had 247 active cases per 100,000 population over the last seven days. At Logan Health in Kalispell 4.2% of staffed hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, and there had been 11.5 new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population over the previous week.

Flathead County’s weekly case counts saw some increases in the month of June, but the county lagged behind the rest of the state and remained at a “Low” Community Level through the first half of the month, before increasing to “Medium.” For much of June county hospitalizations were in single digits despite increasing cases.

On July 1 there were 219 active cases and 13 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Flathead County. The most recent July 15 situation report showed 16 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 258 active cases. As of July 15, Flathead County had the fourth-highest active case total in the state behind Yellowstone County (494 active), Missoula County (442 active), Gallatin County (378 active).

Statewide, cases and hospitalizations have been increasing since April. On the same day Flathead County moved to the “High” community level, there were 2,868 active cases statewide. A few days earlier COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide were at about 100 people.

In total, there have been 292,026 COVID-19 cases, 12,568 hospitalizations and 3,455 deaths statewide. Montana has 53% of its eligible population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including 44% of Flathead County residents.