COVID cases increase in state, omicron cases likely higher than reported

The United States is moving into its third year battling COVID-19. The first detected cases appeared in Washington state in Jan. 2020, but this particular strain of coronavirus was designated with ‘19’ because it began spreading in 2019.

As of Monday, at least 291,651,187 cases have been detected in the U.S. and worldwide at least 5,447,340 people have died.

In Montana, 198,520 people have tested positive and 2,908 people have died. Nine more Montanans died of COVID-related illness over the last week, including two more from Yellowstone County. Both were unvaccinated and had underlying conditions. A total of 480 Yellowstone County residents have died from COVID.

The three recent holidays have resulted in an increase in cases, but it’s too early to know if there will be another surge, according to Billings Clinic Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Neil Ku.

“We’re monitoring the surges (around the U.S.), but the situation is still evolving,” Ku said. “It could be a harbinger of another surge.”

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In the last week, 2,476 more COVID cases were detected, bringing active cases to 3,104. Last Monday, active cases were at 1,775 and marked the first week since October

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