Teton County had only 10 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, but lost another elderly resident to the viral illness, according to the Teton County Health Department.
Public Health Nurse Marcia Kelly said the county’s death toll from the illness is now 17 after an unvaccinated woman in her 70s died last week.
Since October 2020, the county has lost 11 men, ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s, and six women, ranging in age from their 60s to their 80s. The first four deaths occurred between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, before vaccinations were available in early 2021. So far this year, the county has lost 13 residents, all but one of whom were unvaccinated.
As of Monday, the county has had 909 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and had eight active cases — one of the lowest levels of active cases since midsummer.
Kelly said the number of new daily cases in the county has been falling in recent weeks, mirroring the number of new statewide cases that peaked at around 1,600 in mid-September and has now fallen to around 500 a day.
That may mean the delta-variant fueled surge is subsiding and may also reflect that many people whose immunizations were beginning to wane at six months have received booster doses of the three vaccinations available to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate the severity of illness in people who do catch the disease.
Last week the federal Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots for everyone 18 and older who received their last dose of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago and their only dose of Johnson & Johnson at least two months ago.
Booster shots of those vaccines are available at the Teton County Health Department on Fridays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17, from 9 a.m. to noon at the health department in Choteau without an appointment. Shots will be administered to people in their cars, weather permitting.
The TCHD will also be rolling out pediatric vaccinations of Pfizer-BioNTech, which has been approved for children ages 5 to 11. Kelly said the dose for these children is only one-third the dose of what adults receive. The health department staff will be taking the vaccinations to all the county’s schools, starting in December. Parents should watch their children’s backpacks for paperwork for the clinics. Parents who want their children to receive a vaccine need to sign the paperwork and send it back to the school with their kids.
Kelly said the health department is also continuing to offer COVID-19 testing by appointment Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon. Symptoms of COVID-19 include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone who has any of these symptoms is encouraged to get a COVID-19 test, and those who test positive should contact their healthcare provider to determine whether they need treatment. Early treatment can help prevent severe disease.
So far, Kelly said, there have been no confirmed reports of seasonal influenza in Teton County. The health department is continuing to offer flu shots by appointment, Monday through Friday. People can call 406-466-2562 for a flu shot appointment.