Another 1,232 COVID-19 cases and 18 deaths in Montana were reported Wednesday morning in an update to the state's case mapping and information website.
The new deaths bring the average number of deaths reported daily in Montana this month to more than 10 people each day. If that average holds for the remainder of the month, the rapid, growing spread of COVID-19 throughout the state will have led to the infection and death of more than 300 Montanans in November alone.
Montana began the month with 376 COVID-19 deaths and after Wednesday's update the state has reported the deaths of 561 people total.
In the most recent White House Coronavirus Task Force report to governors this week Montana ranked third worst in the nation for deaths per 100,000 population. North Dakota was worst in the nation, followed by South Dakota.
The following number of deaths were added to the state website Wednesday:
- Big Horn with one (48 people total)
- Blaine with three (14 people total)
- Cascade with two (53 people total)
- Lake with two (10 people total)
- Park with one (two people total)
- Phillips with one (five people total)
- Roosevelt with one (37 people total)
- Silver Bow with four (17 people total)
- Yellowstone with two (109 people total)
Yellowstone County's health department continues to report two fewer deaths than are listed on the state website. RiverStone Health has said it is working with the state to reconcile the discrepancy.
In a press release issued Wednesday morning, RiverStone provided some additional information about the two Yellowstone County residents who died.
One of the people who died was a man in his 30s. The other person who died was a man in his 70s. He was a resident of a senior living facility in Yellowstone County.
Both men died Monday while hospitalized in Yellowstone County.
State medical officer Dr. Greg Holtzman has previously pointed to the connection between COVID-19 transmission in younger age groups and COVID-19 transmission in older age groups.
"We cannot treat this outbreak one person at a time for many reasons. We cannot cocoon the vulnerable. We hear that a lot. We are an interdependent society," Holzman said in a late October press call with Governor Steve Bullock.
He pointed to a then-recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article showing that in hot spots, an increase in cases among people age 24 and under preceded an increase in cases in older adults in those areas by three to four weeks.
"Infectious respiratory diseases such as these will not stay in just one age cohort, they will pass from one group to another, because we all interact," Holzman said.
Yellowstone County recorded 258 cases in Wednesday's update for 4,844 active cases. Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton has previously said that a conservative estimate would place the number of close contacts per case at four people, meaning there could be close to 20,000 people in Yellowstone County that are close contacts to a COVID-19 cases and may have the virus themselves.
Flathead County added 129 cases for 1,804 active cases. Gallatin County added 126 cases for 1,033 active cases. Missoula County added 111 cases for 2,080 active. Silver Bow County added 107 cases for 636 active.
The remaining 45 counties reported between one and 70 cases for a total of 501.
A total of 463 people were actively hospitalized, according to the Wednesday update, which relies on data collected by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
There have been 2,202 Montanans confirmed to be hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Eight out of 10 large hospitals in the state had a single digit number of open intensive care unit beds Tuesday.
Seven out of 10 large hospitals reported limited bed availability or being near capacity. Five out of 10 large hospitals reported having limited ICU availability or being near capacity. Those figures come from a snapshot hospital capacity and occupancy report published Tuesday by DPHHS.
Montana has had 50,582 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March. Of those people infected, 30,400 are considered recovered, meaning they meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to be released from isolation. That does not necessarily mean they are no longer experiencing symptoms or adverse health effects related to their illness.
Another 7,578 tests were completed by Wednesday, bringing the statewide testing total to 591,408.
Through Nov. 13, weekly testing in Montana had decreased by about 8% compared to October. The statewide positivity rate has reached a weekly average of 18% in November, compared to 12% in October. The World Health Organization recommends a community reach 14 days of a positivity rate of 5% or lower before reopening.
Counties added the following number of cases in Wednesday's update:
- Yellowstone with 258 (4,844 active)
- Flathead with 129 (1,804 active)
- Gallatin with 126 (1,033 active)
- Missoula with 111 (2,080 active)
- Silver Bow with 107 (636 active)
- Lewis and Clark with 70 (772 active)
- Cascade with 55 (3,339 active)
- Custer with 49 (185 active)
- Jefferson with 22 (98 active)
- Big Horn with 20 (724 active)
- Dawson with 20 (79 active)
- Pondera with 16 (52 active)
- Ravalli with 16 (303 active)
- Lincoln with 15 (222 active)
- Deer Lodge with 14 (59 active)
- Fallon with 14 (27 active)
- Hill with 14 (246 active)
- Sweet Grass with 14 (48 active)
- Lake with 13 (267 active)
- Prairie with 12 (16 active)
- Beaverhead with 11 (105 active)
- Daniels with 11 (16 active)
- Park with 10 (188 active)
- Stillwater with 10 (70 active)
- Blaine with seven (103 active)
- Carbon with seven (105 active)
- Fergus with seven (378 active)
- Madison with seven (81 active)
- Chouteau with six (60 active)
- Roosevelt with six (510 active)
- Garfield with five (18 active)
- Rosebud with five (69 active)
- Broadwater with four (30 active)
- Granite with four (20 active)
- Judith Basin with four (35 active)
- Liberty with four (15 active)
- Phillips with four (26 active)
- McCone with three (six active)
- Sanders with three (46 active)
- Teton with three (20 active)
- Carter with two (five active)
- Glacier with two (137 active)
- Mineral with two (nine active)
- Sheridan with two (80 active)
- Valley with two (60 active)
- Wheatland with two (68 active)
- Golden Valley with one (18 active)
- Powder River with one (10 active)
- Powell with one (88 active)
- Richland with one (225 active)