Public health officials in Shelby said on Thursday afternoon that a fourth person has died due to COVID-19 in Toole County, bringing the state total to eight.
The Toole County Health Department said in a news release: "It is with deeply saddened and heavy hearts that we report an additional death in our community due to COVID-19. Our condolences continue to be with all families that have been affected by COVID-19."
Toole County has been hit hard by COVID-19, with 26 confirmed cases among a population of about 4,900; Shelby, the county seat, has about 3,200 people.
All Toole County cases continue to consist of close contact, healthcare-related transmission. 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."
Governor Steve Bullock said in a news release: “As we learn of the loss of another Montanan due to COVID-19, my heart aches for the community, which has been particularly impacted by this virus, and the family members of this Montanan. As we see how COVID-19 can inundate our smaller communities, I urge all Montanans to continue doing their part to protect our most vulnerable from this dangerous virus.”
There have been a total of 415 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, an increase of eleven since Wednesday. Click here to see the current totals by county . There have been four deaths in Toole County, and one each in Lincoln County, Madison County, Missoula County, and Flathead County.
There have now been 52 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana; 21 of those are considered "active (current) hospitalizations." There have been a total of 218 recovered patients. The DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 9,936 tests for COVID-19, including 353 tests since Wednesday's update.