Five more Jefferson County residents have died from COVID, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The deaths were the 16th through 20th COVID deaths recorded in the county.

The Jefferson County Health Department announced three deaths in an email on Dec. 7 and in a subsequent Facebook post on Dec. 8, and the department announced two more deaths in an email on Dec. 13. The deaths were announced about one month after the department had announced the county's 15th death, which came on the heels of the 11th through 14th COVID deaths in the county during a spike in cases and deaths earlier this fall.

Twelve county residents have died from COVID since late August, a span of about 3.5 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 its Dec. 8 announcement on Facebook 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. 

On Monday, Dec. 13, the department reported 26 active cases, one hospitalization and 54 new recorded cases since Dec. 6. 

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 have receded somewhat in recent weeks. 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. 

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