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Gallatin County has seen the average weekly COVID-19 cases increase during the month of July.

As of Thursday, the seven-day rolling average of daily cases were at about 7 per 100,000 residents, according to the Gallatin City-County Health Department’s weekly report.

That’s an increase from the rolling average of 4.2 per 100,000 residents from the week prior, 2 per 100,000 three weeks ago and 1.2 per 100,000 the first week of July.

During a Board of Health meeting Thursday, Health Officer Lori Christenson said the rolling averages are still low.

“In comparison to some of our spikes (in cases), we continue to see steady but slow cases,” she said.

Young adults have driven the infections in the county this spring and summer, Christenson said Thursday.

Of the cases reported during the past seven-and-a-half weeks, 47% occurred among people aged 20 to 39, she said.

Unvaccinated individuals are also making up the county hospitalizations, Christenson reported. Since April 1, 96% of COVID-19 hospitalizations have been unvaccinated individuals.

As of Friday, Gallatin County had 44 active cases, up from a week ago when the county had 24 active cases. The health department reported seven people were hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Montana has 761 active cases, with the majority of those cases associated with Flathead, Cascade and Yellowstone counties. Overall, there were 75 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In total, 1,695 Montanans have died from the disease, according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As of Tuesday, Gallatin County had 60 variant cases, according to DPHHS. Of those, 42 were the alpha strain, two were the delta strain, three were the gamma strain, eight were the epsilon strain, one case of the eta strain and four cases of the iota strain were reported.

The alpha, delta and gamma strains are classified as “variants of concern,” by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

About 55% of the county’s eligible population, which is everyone 12 and older, has been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of July 18, 64% of the eligible population had received a first dose.

Despite the county’s stagnating vaccination rate it ranked fourth in the state for the highest percent of eligible Montanans fully vaccinated, surpassing Lewis and Clark County. Missoula, Silver Bow and Deer Lodge counties, rank first, second and third for vaccine uptake.

Vaccination rates among young adults and children aged 12 and older are still lagging in Gallatin County, according to DPHHS. About 38% of children eligible, age 12 to 17, have received a first dose. For young adults age 18 to 29, the rate remained at 53% as of July 18, the most recently available data from DPHHS.

The percent of positive tests in Gallatin County for all COVID-19 tests administered also increased since the week prior.

As of Tuesday, the seven-day average rate was at 5.7%, an increase from 4.4% the week before and 1.7% two weeks ago.

The World Health Organization recommends a test positivity rate below 5% as a criteria for reopening and keeping businesses open. The test positivity rate helps public health officials monitor the current levels of COVID-19 transmission and is a marker for whether enough tests are being done.

Montana State University reported one active case, according to the health department.

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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