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HELENA, Mont. - The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is reporting the state is seeing record numbers of active hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

Montana has recorded its highest number of active hospitalizations since Nov. 20, 2020, DPHHS confirmed to Montana Right Now, with a total of 510 active hospitalizations on Oct. 13.

A report from DPHHS that reviewed data from February to September 2021 showed that 89.5% of COIVD-19 cases, 88.6% of hospitalizations and 83.5% of the deaths were among persons not fully vaccinated, including those not yet eligible for vaccination.

During an eight-week period between July 11 and Sept. 2, 2021, the report found that among all cases reported in those eligible for the vaccine, Montanans who were not fully vaccinated contracted the virus at a 4.4 times greater rate than those who were fully vaccinated.

In addition, COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and death rates were 5.1 and 3.3 times greater, respectively, among those who were not fully vaccinated as compared with fully vaccinated persons the DPHHS reported.

“The data are overwhelming. The COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection against infection and at preventing severe illness,” said DPHHS Director Adam Meier. “Clinical trials have found that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19-related outcomes. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated and still have questions, I encourage all eligible Montanans to consult with their healthcare provider or pharmacist.”

DPHHS acting State Medical Officer Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek says the department is encouraging not only vaccination, but for all Montanans and visitors to exercise personal responsibility and take precautionary measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Article updated at 2:44 pm with the corrected date for the highest number of hospitalizations in November of 2020 from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.