Toole County: 16 cases of COVID-19, 3 deaths (Sun PM, Apr 5)

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 21:34:49-04

GREAT FALLS — As of Sunday evening (April 5), there are now 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toole County, an increase of four from Saturday, according to the latest update from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (source/map) .

In addition, three of Montana's five COVID-19 deaths have been Toole County residents. The estimated population is about 4,900 for Toole County; for Shelby, the county seat, the number is about 3,200.

The Marias Medical Center in Shelby said on March 26 that one of the residents of the Marias Heritage Center tested positive for COVID-19. Marias Heritage Center is a 38 apartment, state-licensed facility in Shelby. The next day, they said that some of the positive COVID-19 tests are from Marias Heritage Center employees. They also said: "This situation also exposed others to COVID-19 and, as such, we expect there could be other positives."

According to the DPHHS, the Toole County cases are:

  • 1 female between the ages of 10 and 19
  • 3 females between 20-29
  • 2 females between 30-39
  • 1 female between 40-49
  • 2 females and 1 male between 50-59
  • 1 female and 1 male between 70-79
  • 2 females between 80-89
  • 2 females between 90-99

Blair Tomsheck of the Toole County Health Department said in a news release on Friday: "We are working closely with all healthcare entities in Toole County to address these ongoing cases as they are related to current investigations." The TCHD said on Saturday evening that 160 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Toole County to date.

Llew Jones, a member of the Montana House of Representatives, said on Sunday that actions are being taken in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Toole County. Jones said in a Facebook post that he participated in an incident update call under the direction of Bob Sandman, the incident commander that is working with Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Pondera County, Toole County, and Glacier County to coordinate the response in this region.

Jones said the following actions are being taken:

  • A deep clean crew is enroute to Marias Medical Center and will arrive at 1 o'clock today to begin work.
  • Great Falls Medical and Kalispell Medical are working to develop a labor pool to address critical shortages. The Incident Command Team will take direct control of the labor pool beginning next week.
  • The National Guard will be in Shelby today, will begin work Monday morning to help with staff shortage in Heritage Center.
  • The National Guard is in process of defining the process for providing ambulance services for Covid transport from the region to Great Falls or Kalispell if needed. This should be operational shortly.
  • A rapid response team is being developed to include telehealth and addressing critical nursing care (plan is to fly nurses to surge areas to deal with critical nursing component)—hopefully this response plan will be in place by Monday. The focus here is to deal with Covid 19 transport and release to home quarantine as needed.

He said: "It is comforting to be able to share that a strong coordinated effort is underway. All the area medical facilities and emergency response groups were represented on the call, with the general report being that the situation, while difficult, was being addressed. I personally am very impressed and thankful for our local healthcare providers and their frontline efforts to keep us all safe."

As of Sunday evening (April 5), there have been a total of 298 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and six deaths (source/map). The sixth death was confirmed on Saturday by the Missoula City-County Health Department. The other five deaths have been in Toole County (3, see below), Lincoln County (1), and Madison County (1).

There have now been 24 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana. As of Saturday evening, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 6,789 tests for COVID-19.

Bullock said on Friday that his original "stay at home" order - issued on March 26 and running through April 10 - will likely be extended next week through April 29.

Bullock said on Tuesday afternoon that 32 patients in Montana have recovered. No new numbers for recoveries have been released since then. Bullock said during a news conference on Friday that state officials are working to provide updated recovery numbers. Click here for information about recoveries and why it is still difficult to provide accurate data.