Montana adds 417 new COVID cases, 18 deaths over past week

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Montana added 417 new COVID-19 cases, 18 new deaths and 11 new hospitalizations over the last week.

The state has also seen an increase in variants, according to state data published Wednesday. In total, 726 variants have been detected in the state with 577 of those falling under variants of concern, or a variant with increased transmissibility and potentially reduced effectiveness of the vaccine, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Of those, 51 cases of the Delta variant have been reported, with the bulk of cases appearing in Yellowstone County. The state has seen 500 cases of the Alpha variant and 26 cases of the Gamma variant.

The state lab is sequencing all of the COVID-positive samples that are tested for variants, DPHHS spokesperson Jon Ebelt said Monday. The lab is sequencing approximately 75 to 150 per week depending on volumes. But each week there are a few positive COVID-19 samples that don’t have enough genomic material to provide an adequate read, so those samples can’t be sequenced.

With the spread of the variants, hospitalizations are increasing, particularly with the Delta variant. DPHHS reported a 24.4% hospitalization rate in Delta cases, an 8.7% hospitalization rate in Alpha cases and

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