A 22nd Jefferson County resident has died from COVID, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The death was the first COVID death announced in the county in 2022, continuing a rash of deaths in the county that began in late summer 2021 and continued through the fall and early winter.
The Jefferson County Health Department announced the death in a Facebook post on Jan. 7. The department previously announced the 21st COVID death in the county on Dec. 21.
Fourteen county residents have died from COVID since late August, a span of little more than four months that has been the deadliest timeframe for the virus in the county so far.
The department did not release any further information about the deaths, such as the age, gender or vaccination status of the people who died, but the department stated in a Dec. 8 announcement of other COVID deaths that "the majority of individuals who are most seriously ill and hospitalized are unvaccinated."
Molly Carey, the department's clinic coordinator, told The Monitor after the county's ninth COVID death that "we don’t release any information other than Jefferson County had a COVID-19 related death. This is out of respect to the individual’s loved ones."
The department announced the county's ninth COVID death on Aug. 27. At that time, the county reported 17 active cases and one hospitalization, and an increase of 11 new cases in the preceding three days. The department announced the county's 10th death on Oct. 8, at which time the county reported 76 active cases, four hospitalizations and 51 new cases since three days prior.
The department announced five more deaths during the first nine days of November, and it announced five more in early December.
On Monday, Jan. 10, the department reported 37 active cases, two hospitalizations and 34 new recorded cases since Jan. 3.
The county saw its first COVID death on Nov. 30, 2020.
Jefferson County, Montana and the United States experienced a surge in coronavirus infections and COVID deaths beginning mid-summer and continuing through the early fall, driven primarily by infections and deaths among the unvaccinated, though case numbers in Jefferson County and Montana receded into early winter. Trends in COVID deaths generally lag behind trends in the number of new infections. The surge in cases and deaths has lopsidedly affected areas with lower vaccination rates, including many rural areas of the nation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.