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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare, UM Announce Furloughs

An ambulance in front of Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Eric Whitney
Montana Public Radio
An ambulance in front of Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Flathead County reported Montana’s seventh coronavirus death on Monday, the same day the county’s largest hospital announced pay cuts for physicians and administrators along with temporary layoffs that will affect about 600 workers.

Without the cuts, the hospital is projecting losses of $16 million a month due to the cancellation of elective surgeries and halting other services, said Kalispell Regional Healthcare President and CEO Craig Lambrecht.

The furloughs include some employees who will see their hours reduced, officials said. All furloughed employees will have their health insurance covered through August as well as help applying for enhanced unemployment benefits, the hospital said.

“I am confident that we will ramp back up quickly once it is safe to do so,” said Dr. Lambrecht. “It is my hope that everyone can weather this uncertain time and emerge safe and well.”

The hospital has about 4,000 employees, said spokeswoman Melody Sharpton.

The Flathead City-County Health Department said the person who died of COVID-19 on Sunday was over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions. Health officer Hillary Hanson said out of respect for the family, no further information would be released.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

In other coronavirus-related developments:

— The University of Montana is temporarily laying off 63 staff members, most of whom work in campus housing or dining services, because there are fewer than 100 students on campus after UM transitioned to online classes. The furloughs are planned to last through Aug. 1, President Seth Bodnar said Monday. Those furloughed were given a month's notice and will continue to receive benefits, including insurance. They will be eligible for unemployment benefits, Bodnar said.

— The state Department of Public Health and Human Services reported Montana has 394 cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, an increase of 29 since Friday. Twenty-one people out of 47 who had been hospitalized remain in the hospital.

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