Missoula City County Health Director D’Shane Barnett spoke to KGVO News on Thursday on a variety of subjects, starting with COVID hospitalization and death rates between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“When we look at the difference in hospitalizations between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals over the last 30 days, the rate for unvaccinated individuals to be hospitalized is five times the rate of vaccinated individuals,” began Barnett.

Regarding death rates, Barnett said the difference is even more stark.

“When we look at the rate of deaths based on vaccine status, we have to go back a little bit further because not as many people die as are hospitalized,” he said. “So when we look at our 90-day death rates for those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated, the unvaccinated group is more than 10 times higher than the vaccinated.”

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Barnett said he is fully behind Dr. Walt Peschel and his COVID ‘Peschel Protocol’ currently being tested locally.

“It's important that people have access to high quality treatment,” he said. “The thing about Dr. Peschel is that there's the potential for it to be high quality and low cost, and we haven't seen that yet. There are on the market right now antivirals that folks can be prescribed if you contract COVID. The last time I checked, they are still very expensive. And so if Dr. Peschel is able to come up with a treatment that he's able to get through the review process that is ensuring that it is safe and effective, and not as expensive, I'm fully in support of that.”

Barnett said his support led to getting the Missoula County Commissioners to petition the FDA to officially test Dr. Peschel’s treatment.

“We actually sent that letter to the administrator of the FDA and to our Senators and Congressman and said, ‘Please do whatever you can to make sure that Dr. Peschel is able to get this protocol reviewed’ because if there's an option that it can effectively help keep people out of the hospital and not cost an arm and a leg, we want to see that.”

Get more details about the Missoula City County Health Department here, and COVID issues here.

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