Missoula City County Health Department Incident Commander Cindy Farr acknowledged to KGVO News on Tuesday that she is seeing a steady decline in new COVID 19 cases.

“We're definitely seeing a steady decline in the number of cases that we've gotten coming in over the last week or so,” said Farr. “For example, today, we're only reporting 46 new cases and our average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days are now down to 40. If you can remember, it was over 300 at one point in the middle of this Omicron spike, so while it's still higher than what we want, we'd like to get it down below 25, we're way better off right now than we were say a few weeks ago.”

Farr also addressed the issue of vaccinations and that even though the initial surge has faded there is still a steady number of people coming in for vaccinations.

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“We're definitely still seeing between 20 and 40 people a day coming in to get vaccinated, so that's good,” she said. “At least we're still seeing people trickle in, but we're definitely not seeing the demand that we used to see on a daily basis. Right now we've got 63.5 percent of our total population fully vaccinated, and we would like to see that number get up to between 75 and 85 percent, because that is when we could reach a level where we could have herd immunity and see a lot fewer cases being transmitted.”

Farr said it’s too soon to relax in fighting the COVID pandemic.

“The message right now is that while we are seeing cases decline, COVID is not over and we could always see another spike in cases particularly if we get another variant of concern that may be circulating,” she said. “So it's still important to assess your own risk and determine what kind of risk you are willing to take as far as keeping yourself or your loved ones from contracting COVID.”

Farr described the protocol the CDC will take to determine when COVID has become endemic, as opposed to being a pandemic.

“I believe that the criteria that the CDC is waiting for to be met to call it endemic instead of a pandemic, is that the virus needs to be more stable with fewer mutations happening,” she said. “As long as the virus continues to change significantly, then they can't really call it an endemic disease, and so we really need that virus to stabilize out and not continue to become new variants. At that point it will likely end up being reported much like the way we do flu cases.”

The new COVID vaccination and testing center is open just off West Broadway on the way to the airport.

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