State sets new daily COVID record with 733 cases; Missoula County numbers climb

While Montana slowed the spread of COVID-19 to a crawl early in the pandemic, it’s now setting new weekly records, the latest coming on Wednesday with 733 newly reported cases.

Wednesday’s figures, released by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, are the most for a single day throughout the pandemic, shattering the 492 new cases reported one day last week.

But figures reported by the the state health department have at times conflicted with numbers presented by the Missoula City-County Health Department, and Wednesday was no different.

The state reported 211 new cases in Missoula, though the local health department said it had already processed and reported those cases.

“While this number appears alarming, MCCHD has already processed and reported those cases,” the health department said in a statement. “The state’s report today represents an artifact of their data reconciliation processes.”

Still, both state and local health officials have expressed concern with the surging number of cases, saying at times that hospital resources are growing thin.

Missoula County reported 43 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday with 419 active cases resulting in more than 800 close contacts. The University of Montana accounts for 101 active cases.

Local health officials on Wednesday said eight people are currently being hospitalized with the virus in Missoula County, which reported its fourth COVID-related death on Tuesday.

“We continue seeing a variety of exposure types across our active cases,” local health officials said. “Sixty-two percent of our active cases are associated with known COVID cases, 34% are community-acquired, and 4% are travel-related.”

Gov. Steve Bullock has scheduled a press conference for later this afternoon.