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Missoula County sees 1st COVID-19 death; 281 cases statewide
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Missoula County sees 1st COVID-19 death; 281 cases statewide

Montana reached at least six deaths from COVID-19 by Saturday evening. According to the state’s website tracking the virus, there are 281 known cases statewide and 24 have been hospitalized.

The Missoula City-County Health Department announced on Saturday, April 4, that the Missoula resident passed away from complications due to a COVID-19 infection.

The name and gender of the victim were not released to protect the privacy of the family, although Cindy Farr with the department said the person was "middle aged or above."

She said more details about the person may be released after the department gathers information.

Following the announcement, Gov. Steve Bullock released a statement saying his "heart goes out to the loved ones of this fellow Montanan." 

"Each loss of life impacts another community and another family — and indeed, all of us through our shared bond as Montanans," Bullock said.

He noted Montanans are staying in their homes to stem the spread of the disease "and protect front-line health care workers in both urban and rural communities.”

The governor’s shelter-in-place order for the entire state went into effect March 25. In the past week he’s halted all transfers into state correctional facilities and mandated a two-week self-quarantine for those entering Montana from another state or country. Bullock said Friday that school closures and shelter-in-place conditions would stay in effect at least until April 24.

In a press release, health department public information officer Alisha Johnson said the team at the department "sends our deepest condolences to their family, friends and loved ones at this terrible time."

"We know this loss will be felt by our whole community, as Missoula is like a big family," Johnson wrote. "We urge people to continue being vigilant and supportive of each other as we all work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other, especially those most vulnerable."

Although the state's website had Missoula County with 19 cases, the Missoula City-County health department confirmed 22 known cases by Saturday evening, up from 17 Friday night. 

Half of the state’s deaths have been reported out of Toole County, which reported 15 cases. The two other deaths included a man from Lincoln County and a Madison County resident.

Gallatin County continues to carry the most cases in Montana, with 109 by Saturday evening. Flathead County reported three more cases for a total of 23. Lewis and Clark reported another case and currently has 14.

Yellowstone County had 38 with no new cases Saturday; Butte-Silver Bow and Cascade each have 11; Madison, Park and Lincoln all have six; Broadwater and Lake have four; Anaconda-Deer Lodge has three; Jefferson has two; and Carbon, Ravalli, Musselshell, Meagher, Roosevelt, Hill, Liberty and Glacier all have one. 

As of Saturday evening, the state lab had processed more than 6,500 tests. This does not include tests sent to private labs.

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