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Montana has 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants

by Associated Press
| March 17, 2021 3:00 PM

HELENA (AP) — Montana has a total of 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in 11 counties, the state health department said Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the state this week of 11 tests that identified variants matching two California variants and another that originated in New York along with three more cases of the U.K. variant already identified in Gallatin County.

The California or New York variants involve specimens that were submitted for testing from January to early March in Beaverhead, Cascade, Glacier, Hill, Jefferson, Madison, Phillips, Roosevelt, Silver Bow, and Valley counties. When these samples were initially submitted for testing, the California and New York versions had not yet been classified by CDC.

Gallatin County has 11 known cases of the UK variant, including the three that were confirmed this week.

"Montana continues to submit both random and suspect COVID-19 samples to the CDC for testing," said Adam Meier, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services. "As more surveillance and testing continues, it's not surprising to find more confirmed variant cases in Montana and the U.S.

Meier stressed the best thing Montanans can do to protect themselves from COVID-19, including the new variants, is to get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines about wearing masks, social distancing, staying home if you are sick, washing your hands often and avoiding large crowds.