COVID status in the county, state

Thursday, September 9, 2021
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The COVID-19 Delta variant is making noise in Montana.

The daily new case count has been rising for multiple weeks, totaling 1,041 on Wednesday — which also brought a single-day death count of 14 Montanans. The following is a snapshot of what is happening in Still

The following is a snapshot of what is happening in Stillwater County and across the state.


As of Wednesday, Sept. 8, there were 32 active COVID-19 cases in Stillwater County, with eight of those hospitalized between Columbus and Billings.

To date, the county has had 843 confirmed cases and 16 deaths, for a 1.9 percent death rate.

Montana as a whole has lost 1,828 people and has seen 131,752 confirmed cases. That is a 1.4 percent death rate.


Delta is the most commonly transmitted COVID-19 variant and is accounting for nearly all the positive cases.

“Over the past few weeks, Delta has proven its magnitude of transmissibility throughout the state and no other variants have been identified in any of the August samples provided,” Stillwater Billings Clinic Director of Clinic and Ancillary Services Natasha Sailer.

Variant testing is being conducted weekly with the state requesting specific hospitals to send in COVID-19 swabs for random testing. Due to the length of the testing process (7-10 days), the results are not reported back to individuals and instead are used as data so healthcare professionals can best understand what variant they are seeing, said Sailer.


“We have seen some breakthrough cases with vaccination, however it remains a very small percentage of new cases (less than 2% for Stillwater County),” said Sailer. “Luckily, none of the individuals that were vaccinated have been hospitalized nor have died due to COVID or complications from COVID.”

Stillwater County now has 40 percent of its eligible population vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. That translates into 3,391 people who are fully vaccinated and 3,674 people who have received their first dose.

That percentage had been higher before the eligible population was expanded to include younger people, which in Stillwater, added approximately 3,000 people to the mix, explains Sailer.

That compares to the state vaccination percentage of 51 percent. That translates into 469,194 people being fully immunized.

Vaccination clinics are held every Friday in Columbus, where both Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are offered. Vaccine hours are from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the clinic. Residents are encouraged to call the COVID Vaccination Team with questions at (406)322-1000.


A third dose vaccination — or booster shot — is currently been administered locally to immunocompromised residents. Pfizer’s third shot will be reviewed for approval by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers For Disease Control on Sept. 17. It’s not clear how closely Moderna will follow behind.


The Delta variant surge has made itself known when looking at hospitals around the state.

There are a total 2,771 beds in the state, according to the COVID-19 Hospital Occupancy and Capacity in Montana report.

Of those beds, 892 are open, which constitutes 32.2 percent.

Of the occupied beds, 1,650 are currently taken by non-COVID patients and 274 beds are occupied by COVID patients.

Of the 305 ICU beds available in the state, 67 are occupied by COVID patients, 158 are occupied by non-COVID patients and 80 are not in use.

Of the 462 available ventilators in the state, 29 are being used by COVID patients, 43 are being used by non-COVID patients and 391 are not in use.

Of the state’s 10 large hospitals, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and Kalispell Regional Medical Center are both at more than 90 percent of bed occupancy. Five are between 70 percent and 90 percent of bed capacity and include Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, St. Peters Health, St. James Healthcare, and Benefis Hospitals.

Of the four specialty hospitals, only Advanced Care Hospital of Montana in Billings is at more than 90 percent bed capacity. Shodair Children’s Hospital, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana (also in Billings) and Great Falls Clinic Hospital are less than 70 percent capacity, according to the state report.

Of the 50 critical access hospitals, Beatooth Billings Clinic and the Missouri River Medical Center are each at more than 90 percent capacity. Ten — including Stillwater Billings Clinic (Stillwater Hospital Association) are between 70 and 90 percent capacity and the remainder are under 70 percent capacity, according to the state’s report.