Gallatin county Montana

Omicron is here, Covid back in our homes

U.S. reaches 1 million cases per day and rapid test supply doubled in Big Sky

With the swell of a new variant named after the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, COVID-19 has once again taken center stage at the end of 2021. Last week, the Big Sky Relief Fund doubled the community’s weekly test supply from 500 to 1,000 because of increased need.

Daniel Bierschwale, executive director of Big Sky Resort Area District (BSRAD) and one of the community leaders behind the relief fund, explained in a press release on Dec. 28: “I wish we had a crystal ball because it’s critical we make strategic decisions with community resources and this increase uses up our late winter supply. We are attempting to backfill that supply but considering immediate need— this is the right move for Big Sky,” wrote Bierschwale.

At the moment, 200 tests are available daily for pickup at the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce from Monday through Friday, 9 - 5 p.m. The BinaxNOW rapid tests are free, limited to one box per person (two tests), and handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. The kits are for asymptomatic residents and employees of Big Sky; symptomatic folks should go to Big Sky Medical Center (BSMC) for a test.

Earlier this fall, Lone Mountain Land Company procured a supply of BinaxNOW rapid tests and the Big Sky Relief Fund committed $150,000 to testing and $250,000 to BSMC. The Big Sky Relief testing program is funded by the Resort Tax, a 4% tax on all non-essential business transactions to support infrastructure and continued growth in the Big Sky community.


Bozeman Health is reporting 10 COVID-19 patients at Deaconess Hospital and currently zero COVID-19 patients at Big Sky Medical Center. Three of the 19 in the critical care unit at Deaconess Hospital are COVID-19 positive. The medical unit is at 97% capacity and the surgical unit is at 92% capacity.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department (GCCHD) is reporting that the county is still in a high community transmission phase with the seven-day rolling average per 100,000 residents at 60.3 cases on Dec. 28. Compared to last week’s statistics, this was a 109% increase in cases, up from an average of 29 per 100,000 for a seven-day rolling average.


According to the GCCHD on Dec. 30, they plan to follow the CDC’s new guidance on a five-day isolation and quarantine. “We based this decision on language around ensuring those that are still sick remain in isolation for the full 10 days. In other words, if you are feeling better: no cough, no sneezing, no runny nose, no fever, or you remain completely asymptomatic the entire five days, you can release yourself from isolation and go back to your job or other things, as long as you continue to wear a mask for the additional five days to keep your family and other people safe,” wrote GCCHD in a press release.

“If you are sick, you need to remain home for the full 10 days. If you have access to an at-home rapid test, we strongly encourage you to use it to validate your release from isolation [on] day five. We will also follow the CDC recommendation on quarantine. One of the biggest changes to the guidance on quarantine is close contacts need to stay home for five days if they have not been boosted or were vaccinated more than six months ago (for mRNA) or more than two months ago (for J&J),” wrote GCCHD.

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