Along with the rest of Montana, COVID-19 cases have jumped in Ravalli County, according to county public health director Tiffany Webber. In a report Wednesday, Webber said that there were 347 active cases in the Bitterroot Valley, and another 80 reported cases were under review. She said the statewide totals will see some adjustments this week as the reviews are completed. Wednesday's report from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services showed 80 new positive tests in Ravalli County, with 2,051 positive tests throughout Montana. Missoula County had 259 new positive tests and officials there said the majority of cases were the Omicron variant.

Ravalli County Public Health is trying to keep up with the increase, but the staff is not able to "contact trace" every reported positive test as quickly as they'd want. So, Webber said the tracing priorities will be for children in school or attending daycare, along with people living or working in healthcare or long term care and group homes. If you report a positive test to public health (which is recommended), you may not receive an immediate phone call, but instead a letter with isolation instructions. The report form is at the Public Health website under "tracing."

The isolation instructions have changed with the latest study of the COVID cases. The new time lengths are at the Ravalli County Public Health website. Look for "Isolation Recommendations."

Webber also said the home testing kits are on back-order throughout Montana, including Ravalli County. She suggested you order your free test kids at the covidtests.gov website.

And, again, the recommendations for daily life:
Get vaccinated, mask up in public places where physical distancing is not possible, wash your hands frequently, mask up for 5 days following isolation and 10 days following an exposure. Stay aware of changes in Montana's information. As always, stay home if are sick.

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