GREAT FALLS — The Toole County Health Department in Shelby said on Monday morning that it has confirmed two deaths of Toole County residents due to COVID-19.
Blair Tomsheck, a nurse with the TCHD, did not release any identifying information about the two patients. Tomsheck said in a Facebook Live video that they are coordinating with neighboring counties on responding to COVID-19, and reiterated the steps that people should continue to follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as social-distancing, frequent and thorough hand-washing.
The family of Bev Rogers told KRTV that she is one of the patients who passed away. Rogers was 79 years old. Cheri Rogers Robertson said: "We’d like to say is she absolutely loved her family immensely and always had a sense of humor even right up to the end. Another thing is to the public, don’t let this virus become so real to your families before you take it seriously. Follow the social distancing. We weren’t and still aren’t able to get together at a time when that’s the only thing we want to do."
As of Monday morning, the DPHHS website says that six cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Toole County: female between the ages of 10 and 19; male between 40 and 49; female between 60 and 69; a male and one female between 70 and 79; and one female between 80 and 89.
These two deaths bring the confirmed state total to four; The first death was 77-year old Lincoln County resident Jim Tomlin, whose death was reported on Friday. On Sunday afternoon, public health officials confirmed the death of a Madison County woman who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Governor Steve Bullock said in a news release: “Losing two more Montanans to COVID-19 is a blow to our statewide community. Today’s news is a heartbreaking reminder to us all that we must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of this disease. Montanans in every corner of our state are keeping the family and friends of these Montanans in our hearts.”
The news release also noted that Bullock’s administration is aware of the concerns regarding impacts to the senior community in the county and has been working to deploy additional resources to the health care system.
STATE SUMMARY: As of Monday morning (March 30), there are now 171 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and four deaths. Here are the counties with the most confirmed cases in Montana: Gallatin 67; Yellowstone 26; Missoula 12; Lewis & Clark 11; Butte-Silver Bow 9; Flathead 9; Cascade 7; Toole 6; Madison 4; Lincoln 4; Broadwater 3; Lake 3. County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services release data by county only, and do not provide information on which towns the patients live in.
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 eight hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana.
As of Monday morning, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed more than 4,132 tests for COVID-19. Officials know that the number of actual cases is undoubtedly much higher, and are continuing to test in accordance with CDC guidelines. The "recovery rate" for Montana has not yet been determined, as COVID-19 is still relatively new in our state and there is not enough data to calculate an accurate rate at this point.
- NOTE: Some confirmed cases are being re-assigned to other counties - for instance, a Glacier County case was re-assigned to Toole County, because the patient was tested and treated in Glacier County (Cut Bank), but actually lives in Toole County. That has happened in several cases. We know that it can be confusing - we are trying to keep things as accurate as possible as the situation changes.
CASCADE COUNTY CASES: There are seven confirmed cases in Cascade County: two women in their 20s; one man in his 30s; and two women and two men in their 50. The City-County Health Department said on Friday that the latest Cascade County case is a man in his 50s who tested positive for COVID-19 in another Montana county. Because the patient is a resident of Cascade County, he is classified as a Cascade County case, and Cascade County now appears on the official state map as having seven cases of COVID-19. The CCHD said that the man has not been in Cascade County for several weeks so he could not have acquired the disease here, and has not exposed anyone else here. He will continue to be isolated in the county where he tested positive. No other information has been released. The CCHD has declined to release any other details of the confirmed cases due to federal privacy laws such as HIPAA.
County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services release data by county only, and do not provide information on which towns the patients live in.
GREAT FALLS: Law enforcement officials in Great Falls said in a news conference on Friday afternoon that they strongly encourage residents to follow Bullock's order and stay in their homes, unless there is a critical need to leave the residence. They made it clear, however, that people can leave their homes to get groceries, buy food from a restaurant, go to medical appointments, provide care for others, and other activities that are deemed essential. They can also drive around and enjoy the outdoors, but officials stressed that maintaining a "social distance" of at least six feet from other people is critical.
They explained what the governor's order meant in terms of law enforcement actions. They said that travel throughout Great Falls and Cascade County is not restricted, and officers will not be stopping people simply to make them justify their travel. Law enforcement officers will continue to conduct proactive patrols, respond to calls for assistance, and make traffic stops when appropriate.
"STAY HOME" ORDER: Governor Steve 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. *CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TEXT OF THE DIRECTIVE*
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