Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Now that Montana, the United States, and the rest of the world have put the COVID-19 pandemic into the rearview mirror, KGVO News reached out to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) for its perspective and the lessons learned through the pandemic.

Supervisor of the Montana Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section at DPHHS, Magdalena Scott provided her perspective dating back to early May when the official end of the pandemic was announced.

Officially, the COVID Pandemic Ended Back on May 11

“In the United States, the Federal Government announced the end of the COVID public health emergency on May 11; that is the date that it officially ended,” began Scott. “So at that time, we here in Montana also decided that it was time to step back from the enhanced surveillance that we've been doing for COVID during these past three very busy years.”

Scott provided the statewide raw numbers that all of us lived through during the pandemic.

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333,000 Cases; 14,000 Hospitalizations and 3,700 Deaths in Montana

“It's been over three years,” she said. “We have reported over 333,000 cases of COVID in the state of Montana, and that's about a third of our population. In terms of hospitalizations, there have been over 14,000 hospitalizations due to COVID and over 3,700 deaths in Montana due to COVID.”

DPHHS Communications Director Jon Ebelt looked back at the importance of proper consistent messaging that helped to bring Montanans the most up-to-date and accurate information about the pandemic.

Learning to 'Manage the Message' through the Pandemic

“We did a lot of messaging with our media campaigns,” said Ebelt. “We did a lot of surveys of Montanans with the information that they wanted and how they wanted to receive that information, so we did a lot of work on our public messaging through our media campaigns. Also to make sure that people were receiving the timely information, and from the people that they trusted most, were in many situations medical providers, like nurses and doctors.”

Now that spring has arrived and summer is on the way, Scott drew the conversation back to the present.

“You know, it's springtime and we've started some messaging about being careful about tick bites you know that's there you know, as you're cleaning out your sheds watch out for mice that can spread Hantavirus or spread rabies,” she said. “There are a lot of other diseases out there that we are still responding to and still trying to protect the public from, so I hope that you can check our website and watch for press releases that we put out on our social media to get important information about staying healthy in Montana.”

Scott and Ebelt encouraged Montanans to visit the DPHHS website for information and updates on getting and staying healthy this summer.

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