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Omicron cases on the rise in Butte-Silver Bow

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Worldwide, nationwide and right here in Butte, the omicron variant has set up shop and does not show any signs of leaving here anytime soon.

Cases have risen across the United States, including Montana, which is  experiencing an upsurge.

The Montana Department of Health & Human Services reported Monday there were 1,939 new COVID cases from last weekend. Gallatin County alone accounted for 694 of the new cases with Missoula County at nearly 300.

In Butte-Silver Bow, there were 63 new cases.

Marcee Cameron of the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department knows firsthand about the escalating cases.

“Omicron is spreading like wildfire,” said Cameron, who believes "masks are needed now more than ever.”

Cameron, who coordinates all the vaccine clinics the department schedules, hopes residents take omicron seriously. She explained the cases here in Butte are rising since last week to a point where health officials can’t keep up with their contact tracing.

“We’re doing the best we can,” said Cameron.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, omicron symptoms are much like the common cold — cough and congestion, a runny nose, night sweats, fatigue and a sore or scratchy throat, and like the common cold, omicron is highly contagious.

Getting the vaccine and/or the booster is still highly recommended.

“People that are not vaccinated are getting far sicker,” Cameron said.

Vaccines and boosters remain available. Each week, the local health department holds a by-appointment-only clinic from 9 a.m. until late afternoon Tuesdays, depending on the demand.

Appointments are needed because some who come in for vaccines and/or boosters are older or have underlying conditions. She also encourages residents to call if they have a question rather that stopping by the offices at 25 W. Front St.

“It’s best to keep everyone safe,” she said.

It’s all about the kids on Wednesdays, when a pediatric clinic is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Butte Plaza Mall. The clinic is much needed, according to Cameron, as they are seeing younger children with omicron. She also encourages parents to keep on hand a pulse oximeter, which monitors oxygen levels.

“It’s as important as having a thermometer,” she shared.

On any given week, health officials may hold a couple more clinics, depending on the need. Residents are asked to call in advance at 406-497-5020 or check out the health department's Facebook page.

Other facilities that provide COVID vaccinations and boosters are the pharmacies at Walmart (406-494-1420), Safeway (406-494-3754), Walgreens (406-782-5471), and CVS (406-723-9408), and Southwest Montana Community Health Center, 445 Centennial Ave., (406-723-4075). Appointments are necessary.

Residents who feel they may have the virus, can get tested at:

  • SMCHC at 445 Centennial Ave., 406-723-4075. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Native Wellness Center at 55 E. Galena St., 406-782-0461. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m. to noon.

At present, there are 331 active cases in Butte-Silver Bow County, with 21,189 residents fully immunized.

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