Cascade County infectious disease rate drops, could stay that way if people celebrate smart this weekend

GREAT FALLS, Mont.- Positive cases are finally on the decline in Cascade County. Public Health Officer Trisha Gardner hopes we can keep these numbers low through the first few weeks of the new year in the wake of the holiday season. She says this week’s drop in positive cases is a good sign, but urges everyone to be smart heading into this final holiday weekend. 

This week's new infectious disease rate for Cascade County sits at 25 positive cases per 100,000 people. That's a significant drop from 99 per 100,000 just over a month ago before all major holidays. 

The current public health order states the county must stay at or under this rate for four consecutive weeks before restrictions can loosen. 

Gardner explains why this new rate serves as a glimmer of hope for 2021, but doesn't mean we're out of the woods just yet. 

"We're at the right direction. We've got a week now. This could really mean a lot moving forward for our community. If we continue to do all of the right things and continue to keep things in check, we can start lifting some of those restrictions and get back to a little bit more of business as normal and that's an exciting thing,” Gardner said. 

She adds the main goal is towards a full reopening of public spaces. New Year’s weekend is notoriously known for partying, but large celebrations could end up holding us back in the long-run. For now she recommends small or virtual gatherings. 

Gardner believes we're making progress and is confident we can celebrate the right way this weekend.  

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