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; for Shelby, the county seat, the number is about 3,200.
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."
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.
Gov. Steve Bullock also released a statement on the new death.
“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," Bullock said in a news release.