Every day for the past two years, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has faithfully published daily COVID-19 infection numbers, however, that practice will end on Friday.

KGVO News spoke with Magdalena Scott, Supervisor of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section of the DPHHS on Wednesday, who announced the new reporting policy.

“This Friday, May 6 is going to be our last daily update of our COVID dashboard,” began Scott. “We've been maintaining this dashboard for two years now since the pandemic started and we’ve had it up and running for over a year and a half, and we’ve updated that dashboard, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Then we pulled back to Monday through Friday reporting. So now we're pulling back one step further to just weekly reporting, so the dashboard will be updated every Friday moving forward.”

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Scott said the reduction in COVID numbers has led to the transition from daily to once a week reporting.

“During the pandemic we have seen fewer cases recently,” she said. “That's given us as epidemiologist some time to kind of review the data that we're presenting and see if we actually still need to be presenting this, and at what frequency we need to present it. The pandemic has changed so much over the past two years, and something that we thought the metrics were important a year and a half ago, but they may not be as important this year, just as we've learned more, and as things have changed.”

Scott said the DPHHS has been working with the Montana State Library daily during the pandemic.

“We've been working in our ‘epi’ section with the folks at the Montana State Library who run the map, and we've been tweaking some things there,” she said. “We just felt like it was a good time to kind of make some changes. We can get some messaging out about it, so that everybody knows what to expect and knows when they can look at the data and how to interpret the data moving forward.”

Scott said the DPHHS will continue to monitor the virus on a daily basis so they can stay on top of the pandemic.

“DPHHS is going to continue to monitor COVID cases every day as we have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said. “So just because we're not updating the dashboard every day doesn't mean that we're going to change what we're doing here at the county level and at the state level. We're still monitoring reports of new cases every day. We're investigating outbreaks, we're doing contact tracing, and all that work is going to continue.”

Health officials request that the public follow COVID-19 precautions recommended by the CDC given their community’s COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization levels, including being current on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.

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