Local COVID-19 stats, updates & important news

OSHA releases vaccine mandate, court Blocks and Pfizer vaccine authorized for children

American’s lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years now. The World Health Organization issued a global health emergency on Jan. 31, 2020, and the United States declared a public health emergency a few weeks later. Three vaccines in the U.S.—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—have proven effective against the mild to deadly respiratory illness, which has claimed 753,919 American lives. As of last week, two significant developments for kids and private businesses have been announced by the White House in regards to COVID-19.

CDC RECCOMENDS 5–11-YEAR-OLD KIDS GET VACCINE

Children, up until this point, have been unable to receive a vaccine due to health concerns and the severity of reactions. “Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 years. [The] CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 get a COVID-19 vaccine. There are approximately 28 million children in this age group in the United States, with nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. While fewer COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been reported in children compared with adults, children can be hospitalized or die from the virus,” (CDC).

The pediatric Pfizer vaccine— which has undergone rigorous safety testing—is different than the vaccine administered to teens and adults. It is one-third the normal dose and injected by a smaller needle. Statistically, it’s shown to be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children from 5-11 years old.

OSHA MANDATE

In other big news, The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its vaccine requirement for the private sector and January 4th deadline last week. “[The rule] will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work... This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses,” (The White House).

However, a lawsuit filed by 11 Republican-led state’s attorney generals on Friday, Nov. 5, immediately challenged the mandate and a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana temporarily blocked OSHA’s ruling on Saturday, Nov. 6. The OSHA vaccine mandate for the private sector is so far the most controversial and sweeping order by the federal government to combat vaccine resistance and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Biden administration already rolled out a vaccine requirement in July for all federal employees and contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 22, 2021. The administration cited the effectiveness of employee mandates in convincing hesitant people to get the vaccine. They pointed to businesses like United Airlines where more than half unvaccinated employees received the vaccine following the company’s requirement.

What makes this situation even more complicated in Montana is House Bill 702 (HB 702). The bill makes discrimination against individuals based on their vaccination status illegal in Montana. HB 702 was passed by Governor Gianforte on May 7, 2021, and appears to be in direct conflict with the new OSHA mandate released last week.

This legal limbo between the state of Montana and the federal government is causing confusion for businesses in the private sector. Employers in Big Sky, like Lone Mountain Land Company (LMLC) and Big Sky Resort, are struggling with how to handle the complicated situation between the opposing state and federal law. Do they stick with HB 702 or follow the new OSHA guidelines?

During a press conference on Nov. 5, Tracy Ellig, vice president of communications for nearby Montana State University, explained that the public university would defer to the state’s guidance over OSHA. This was one of the first occasions a local organization, who might be impacted by OSHA’s mandate, released their position to the public. Tracy said: “MSU legal counsel determined that the OSHA requirement does not apply to the state employees who work for the university.”

A LMLC representative recently responded to a request for comment on the nuanced situation, writing: “We are aware of both the federal mandate and Montana’s HB 702. We are currently analyzing how to stay in compliance with the federal and state requirements, with our primary goal to keep our employees, residents and guests safe this winter season.” Big Sky Resort plans to issue a public statement later this week on their position as well.

GALLATIN COUNTY COVID-19 STATISTICS & MODELS

Below are the most recent local COVID-19 statistics provided by Gallatin City-County Health Department.

Gallatin County updates as of 11/5/2021:

• The cases in residents dropped from 63.2 cases per 100,000 to 50.8 cases per 100,000. This is a 20% decrease in the 7-day rolling average of the number of daily cases in Gallatin County.

• The positivity rate dropped from 13.8% to 11.9%; this is a 14% decrease of the 7-day average in percent positivity.

• Anything over 10% positivity rate is considered high community transmission. Bozeman Health updates as of 11/5/2021:

• Patient numbers dropped from over 20 to around 15 hospitalized with COVID-19 last week

• About 3/4 of hospitalized cases are unvaccinated

• About 1/4 of hospitalized cases are breakthrough cases

• There are currently no covid-19 hospitalized patients at Big Sky Medical Center

• Critical Care Unit at Deaconess hospital is at 90% capacity—over half of these cases are COVID-19 positive patients

• Medical Unit at Deaconess hospital is at 97% capacity

• Surgical Unit at Deaconess hospital is at 118%

VACCINE INFORMATION

The Big Sky Medical Center is currently offering booster shots, primary vaccine series, and pediatric vaccines. According to a Bozeman Health representative, approximately 80% of employees and 90% of physicians are vaccinated at Bozeman Health. Vaccine availability at Big Sky Medical Center:

• Every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pfizer vaccines (1st, 2nd, and 3rd dose) are available for adults and kids age 12+

• Every Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Moderna vaccines (3rd dose and boosters only) are available

• Every Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. pediatric Pfizer vaccines (ages five to 11 only) are available

• If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment for a vaccine, give BSMC a call at 406-995-6995

More Information

Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
Susanne Hill, billing: shill@lonepeaklookout.com
Ad orders, inserts, classifieds: connect@lonepeaklookout.com
406-579-6877
Comment Here