The first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was reported by Ravalli County Public Health Director Tiffany Webber. She said confirmation took place in the first week of 2022 and the valley is seeing an increase in reported COVID cases.

In a press release, Webber noted that Ravalli County had 231 active COVID cases as of Monday evening. The omicron variant is expected to continue to spread across the Bitterroot, as it did in Montana. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported that more than 80 percent of the State Lab’s samples over the weekend were Omicrons.

Webber also said that new studies show that a person is more contagious a day before they experience symptoms and is less contagious within a week. Usually the infection period is 2 to 3 days before you experience symptoms until 8 days after the onset of symptoms. Due to these results, the isolation period has been updated.

Now, a person who tests positive but shows only mild symptoms should self-isolate for at least 5 days, whether or not they have been vaccinated. A person who does not have a fever and shows improvement or no symptoms can be discharged from isolation on day 6, but the recommendation is to wear a mask for an additional 5 days. The Centers for Disease Control has more information.

Webber said home testing kits show an average of 8 to 10 positive tests in Ravalli County per week, and the kits are so popular that there is a shortage in the valley. Kits are on order but delivery is unknown. In fact, Ravalli County Public Health did not have any home kits in stock on Tuesday.

If you test positive in a home test, please notify public health. It is not compulsory, but recommended. They can also advise you on how to treat the infection. Its number is 406 375-6672. Or check online at the Ravalli County website.

The Ravalli County Public Health Department recommends vaccination and booster shots, along with the usual precautions: wash your hands frequently, stay away physically, keep social groups small, mask off if necessary, use a test kit at home to help make decisions and stay home when sick.

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