COVID-19 cases are back on the rise in Missoula County, said Dr. D’Shane Barnett, Director of the Missoula City County Health Department.

As of Tuesday, there were 65 new cases and 203 active cases in Missoula. KGVO News reached out to Dr. Barnett for more details.

“We're definitely in a growing phase,” said Dr. Barnett. “The reason that we're concerned and the main thing that we really want to keep an eye on is our hospitalizations. Our top priority is to preserve hospital capacity, and so today we have six individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. We just want to keep an eye on that because we don't want our hospitalization numbers to get out of control.”

Barnett was most concerned about what he termed high-risk individuals in the community who are most susceptible to the COVID virus.

“The high-risk categories are still going to be our elders, and our people with pre-existing conditions, especially diabetes, certain heart diseases, and young children,” he said. “Anyone who you know would be otherwise susceptible to a respiratory illness needs to pay very close attention if you're immunocompromised, and that’s anyone who would be at risk for respiratory illness.”

Dr. Barnett admitted that Missoula County residents may be tired of hearing about how to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I know that people are tired of this but we really need to be practicing those behaviors that we know if we have any kind of symptoms, just stay home,” he said. “Tests are widely available. I don't know if your listeners have seen this, but the federal government has now authorized a third shipment of home tests. Plus, you know there are stores here in Missoula, and they are not reporting any shortages of home tests. So if you have symptoms, stay home, test yourself.  With most of the home tests, you're going to need to test yourself a couple times over a couple of days, but while you're sick, just stay home.”

Dr. Barnett closed by providing information on where Missoula County residents can get the COVID vaccine or boosters.

“Folks can still get their vaccines through the health department if they choose,” he said. “They would just call and they would schedule an appointment just like you would any regularly scheduled immunization through the Health Department. The reason that we aren't doing vaccines in a mass clinic anymore is that most medical providers around town can also get you your COVID vaccine and booster, so if you haven't been vaccinated or you haven't had your booster, the first thing that I would say is call your medical provider.”

Missoula health officials said the increase in cases was expected.

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