Montana added another 869 COVID-19 cases and two deaths Monday morning in an update to the state's case mapping and information website.
The state website showed an all-time high 20,009 active cases.
As of Sunday, Montana had been averaging more than 1,000 cases reported a day over the previous seven days. The state did not have 1,000 total cases until the end of July.
The two deaths bring the state death total to 522 people. The state website does not track the deaths of people who are from out of state but die while hospitalized in Montana.
Park County Health Officer Laurel Desnick announced on Monday that two people in her county had died since last Friday, including a man from North Dakota. Park County had 200 active cases Monday, and has had 450 total confirmed cases since the pandemic began.
One of the people who died was a man in his 70s. He died Sunday while hospitalized at Livingston HealthCare hospital. He was the first Park County resident to die as a result of COVID-19, according to Desnick.
The person who died Friday was a man in his 70s from North Dakota who was being treated at Livingston HealthCare because of hospital shortages in his home state, according to the health officer.
"I would like to express my condolences to the families," Desnick said in a written statement. "We all share in your sadness. It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially far from home."
Desnick went on to say that "This is a somber reminder to the rest of our community" and that "In all likelihood, these will not be our only deaths from the virus."
"We know how to stop the spread of this virus. Now is the time for each of us to do everything we can to help," she said.
Montana hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients that cannot find care in their home states is not new. At a press conference on Oct. 12, the Billings Clinic's director of patient safety and infection control, Nancy Iversen, confirmed that some Billings Clinic patients had come from North Dakota, where hospitals were struggling with capacity.
On Sunday, the Billings Clinic had its hospital beds occupied by 83 COVID-19 patients, which was more than any other hospital in the state. Neighboring St. Vincent Healthcare hospital had the second most COVID-19 patients in the state with 64. The two hospitals, which provide medical care for a region with a population of about 650,000 people, had 11 intensive care unit beds available on Sunday.
At the time data was submitted to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, a total of 453 people were hospitalized in the state.
Seven out of 10 large hospitals in the state had limited intensive care unit bed availability or were near capacity Sunday, according to a DPHHS snapshot report on hospital occupancy and capacity in Montana. Six out of 10 large hospitals in Montana on Sunday reported they had limited bed availability or were near capacity.
St. Vincent Health care hospital in Billings. St. Peter's Health hospital in Helena, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and Benefis Hospitals in Great Falls all had more than 90% of their hospital beds occupied Sunday.
St. James Healthcare hospital in Butte and the Billings Clinic both reported between 70% and 90% of hospital beds occupied.
Among the deaths added to the state website Monday was the first Garfield County resident to die as a result of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Some information about the person who died and the circumstances of their illness was included in a press release from Anne Miller, the county's public information officer. The press release was issued just before noon Sunday. The county has a population of around 1,200 people, and as of Sunday had 15 active cases and 46 total cases.
The person who died was an 82-year-old man and symptomatic at the time of his death. Miller described him as someone who was considered "an epidemiological positive" because of his "close proximity to lab-confirmed positive cases."
"It is with extremely heavy hearts for the resident's family that we release this news," Miller said in a written statement. "The loss of anyone here has a ripple effect felt throughout our tight knit community. It is a blow to our COVID team and not one which we take lightly."
A death was also reported out of Big Horn County. There is a discrepancy between the total number of deaths reported on the state website (46) and what Big Horn County is reporting as its total number of deaths (43).
The county announced its 43rd death in a press release issued Sunday by public information officer Rhonda Johnson. The person who died was a woman in her 60s who was hospitalized before she died Saturday night, according to Johnson.
Yellowstone County added more cases than any other county Monday with 241 for an active case total of 4,784. Gallatin County added the second most with 198 cases for 1,452 active cases.
Aside from Gallatin and Yellowstone, no other counties reported more than 66 cases.
A total of 48,027 people have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Montana since March. Of those people infected, 27,496 are considered recovered, meaning they meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for a person with COVID-19 to be released from isolation. That does not necessarily mean they are no longer experiencing symptoms or adverse health effects related to their illness.
At the beginning of September there were 1,945 active COVID-19 cases, 7,509 total cases and 105 deaths that had been reported in the state.
At the beginning of October there were 3,981 active cases, 13,500 total cases and 181 deaths that had been reported in Montana.
At the start of November there were 11,721 active cases, 33,495 total cases and 376 COVID-19 deaths that had been reported in Montana.
The state reported the completion of another 773 tests Monday. The Gazette has reached out to DPHHS for more information about why the number of cases reported exceeds the number of recently completed tests. A total of 573,334 tests have been completed as part of ongoing efforts to both track and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Montana.
Counties added the following number of cases in Monday's update:
- Yellowstone with 241 (4,781)
- Gallatin with 198 (1,452 active)
- Cascade with 66 (2,899 active)
- Flathead with 65 (1,723 active)
- Lewis and Clark with 65 (860 active)
- Missoula with 55 (2,165 active)
- Fergus with 28 (370 active)
- Ravalli with 18 (288 active)
- Lincoln with 15 (231 active)
- Lake with 12 (310 active)
- Big Horn with 11 (672 active)
- Sheridan with 10 (89 active)
- Carbon with nine (131 active)
- Hill with nine (388 active)
- Park with nine (207 active)
- Richland with nine (238 active)
- Valley with eight (74 active)
- Madison with seven (94 active)
- Silver Bow with seven (597 active)
- Beaverhead with six (114 active)
- Garfield with five (19 active)
- Roosevelt with four (510 active)
- Phillips with three (34 active)
- Pondera with two (38 active)
- Toole with two (62 active)
- Deer Lodge with one (80 active)
- Golden with one (17 active)
- Jefferson with one (102 active)
- Sweet Grass with one (56 active)
- Teton with one (26 active)
This story will be updated.
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