Ravalli County had 436 open COVID-19 investigations as of Monday afternoon,
December 14, according to Public Health Director Tiffany Webber. She said over the weekend, 48 new positive tests were reported Friday and 37 on Saturday. However, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services were upgrading their reporting system Sunday and Monday, leading to no daily updates. The DPHHS stated that they would be adding the missing daily figures to reports this week.

Meanwhile, Billings and Bozeman hospitals were the first to receive the Pfizer vaccines Monday. Over 9,000 doses of the vaccine were received. This particular vaccine requires deep cold storage, so it was sent to the larger institutions. Another 18,000 doses are expected next week through CVS/Walgreens pharmacies, Webber said, with a third shipment after Christmas. The initial doses are for front-line healthcare workers and then long-term care facilities.

Again, health care professionals are urged the public to maintain their COVID-19 precautions - wear the mask, keep your distance, wash your hands and surfaces and keep your social groups small. It will be months before the vaccines will be widely available. Another vaccine, this one from Moderna, is well into the approval consideration in the US, and officials are expecting a decision soon.

Webber said the healthcare workers who actually administer the vaccine should have some training, as recommended by the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The Montana DPHHS will set dates for such training. She said the Ravalli County Office of Emergency Management will be assisting Public Health in planning any county vaccination clinics.

Both Montana Senators applauded the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine to Montana. Senator Jon Tester said in a news release, "Montana's frontline health care workers will start receiving the first doses of the vaccine, marking an extraordinary milestone after many months of hardship and sacrifice." Senator Steve Daines, in a separate release, said, "I'm proud to have secured the initial $10 billion that helped make this modern medical miracle possible, and I will continue working to ensure all Montana communities get access."

CHECK THEM OUT: 100 years of Christmas toys, gifts and fads