Find the latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana here. This post will be updated daily, with newer information at the top.
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03/29/20 9:30 p.m.
As of Sunday night Montana is reporting more than 160 known cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Two more Montanans have died. The Cut Bank Pioneer Press reports that a woman from Toole county died Saturday. The Madison County health department notified the governor's office about another Saturday night.
Gallatin and Yellowstone Counties are seeing the bulk of the cases, and health officials in both counties say the virus is spreading through the community.
Yellowstone County learned last week that a second guard at the county detention center has tested positive for the illness. Listen to the audio to learn more about what Montana's prisons and jails are doing to try to combat the coronavirus.
03/27/20 5:45 p.m.
Montana is currently reporting more than 120 known cases of the COVID-19 illness. Health officials say there are likely more untested cases in the state.
A man in Lincoln County has died from the disease, the first death related to the novel coronavirus in the state. According to the Western News in Libby, 77-year old Jim Tomlin passed away Thursday after being transported to Kalispell for hospital care. Gov. Steve Bullock announced the death Thursday night, but did not release the person’s identity or where the person lived. Bullock said health officials were contacting relatives. The Lincoln County Health Dept. reported that Tomlin had traveled out-of-state domestically before testing positive for the coronavirus.
Seven people in Montana are hospitalized as a result of the virus.
In Yellowstone County, health officials say a steep rise in cases there is likely due in part to an increase in testing. But county Health Officer John Felton says he assumes some of Yellowstone’s 20 cases resulted from community spread.
Gallatin City-County Health Department Officer Matt Kelley says there’s evidence of community spread in the greater Bozeman area as well. More than 30 percent of Montana’s confirmed case are in Gallatin County.
"This virus could be anywhere in our community and that any travel outside your home increases your risk of coming into contact with the virus."
No county outside of Yellowstone or Gallatin is reporting community spread of the virus.
Bozeman Health today announced a health care worker has tested positive. The Gallatin City-County Health Department is tracking down people who may have been exposed.
Health officials say the best way to prevent spreading the coronavirus is frequently washing hands and often-touched surfaces; not touching your face and maintaining 6-feet distance from other people.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s stay at home directive goes into effect at midnight through April 10. County attorneys are to enforce the directive that prohibits Montanans from leaving their homes, with exceptions for essential trips to access food, medical care, low-risk recreation and some exempted work.
03/26/20, 7:45 p.m.
Gov. Steve Bullock today issued a shelter in place order for the state’s roughly 1 million residents, ordering Montanans to stay at home, aside from getting groceries, seeking medical care and some other exceptions. The order starts 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 and lasts two weeks, until April 10.
Bullock previously ordered closed schools, restaurants, bars and other gathering places, and also limited public gatherings to fewer than 10 people. But he said this additional step was needed to ensure the state does, "everything we can to cut off the chain of transmission."
Earlier today the Montana Hospital Association recommended Gov. Bullock to issue a mandatory statewide shelter in place declaration to protect lives and the state economy. MHA says the potential for an explosive spread of the novel coronavirus in Montana is a reality that cannot be ignored. The association says a shelter in place order would allow public health workers to test, track and isolate people who are infected. MHA says this could quarantine the virus.
More than 20 states now have varying shelter in place orders in effect as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.
As of the latest updated count from the Montana State Health Department this afternoon, the state lab has confirmed 90 cases of COVID-19 in Montana. More than 40 percent of those cases are in Gallatin County, where health officials say the virus is likely community spread.
Montana health officials say there has been one hospitalization due to COVID-19 in the state. Several more rural counties in Montana identified their first cases of the virus, including Licoln and Hill Counties.