77-year old man identified as first COVID-19 death in Montana

 Jim Tomlin
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Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 27, 2020

Lincoln County resident Jim Tomlin has been reported as the first COVID-19 death in Montana. Tomlin was 77 years old and lived south of Troy.

Tomlin's family told MTN News that his father developed a cough last weekend while on vacation. After returning home Sunday, he was taken to a hospital on Monday afternoon. By Wednesday, he was transferred to a hospital in Kalispell and was on a ventilator.

Tomlin's son made a public post on Facebook detailing his father's final days, calling it "A True Realtime COVID-19 story." Here are excerpts:

  • Wednesday, 2:00 PM, the doctor, a renowned lung expert, calls, things are deteriorating fast, he will need to be on a ventilator very soon.
  • Wednesday, 9:00 PM he is in Kalispell, in a medically-induced coma, in critical condition. Conversations with doctor revolve around his DNR order.
  • Thursday, 10:00 AM He is still in the coma, he has been medically paralyzed and is being treated with THE antimalarial drug.
  • Thursday, 2:00 PM Palliative care doctor called. It is time to make the hard call. He is alive only because of the ventilator. 😭
  • Thursday, 4:30 PM Last rites were given over the phone. His wife got to say good bye and that children love him, over the phone.
  • Thursday, 4:37 PM He is gone.

Tomlin taught high school biology, air and space, and some humanities for 40 years in Walla Walla, Washington. He and his wife decided to live in Montana upon retirement.

Scott said, "He never stopped being an educator. He never stopped learning. He always wanted to teach, so if this is his last lesson, hopefully it saves lives. He would be proud to know that he affected people enough to change their behavior for the better."

As of Friday evening (March 27), there are 121 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana.

Here is a list of counties with the most confirmed cases: Gallatin 42; Yellowstone 23; Missoula 8; Butte-Silver Bow 7; Cascade 7; Lewis & Clark 7; Flathead 6. Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site.

There have now been seven hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana, according to the state Coronavirus Task Force. The DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed more than 2,680 tests for COVID-19.

Bullock on Thursday afternoon issued a directive requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all nonessential businesses and operations as efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continue. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 28. Click here for complete details.

The order will be in effect through Friday, April 10, and requires all businesses and operations in Montana, except for essential businesses and operations as defined in the directive, to stop all activities within the state. The Directive also prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or place of residence.

The order does not prohibit restaurants from continuing to offer take-out, curb-side, and delivery service. Click here for a list of Great Falls restaurants offering such service.

Employees who are not sure if they are considered essential should talk with their manager/business owner. Business owners with questions can call at 1-800-755-6672 and leave messages 24-hours a day and will receive a prompt response, according to Bullock.