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Second Montanan dies from COVID-19; newspaper reports third death; state case total at 161
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Second Montanan dies from COVID-19; newspaper reports third death; state case total at 161

From the Here's how the coronavirus has progressed in Montana and Wyoming series

The second COVID-19 death in Montana was confirmed Sunday by the state, and a newspaper in Cut Bank reports that a third Montanan has also died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The recent death confirmed by health officials and the governor's office occurred Saturday evening, according to a press release issued Sunday by the Madison County Public Health Department.

The deceased was a Madison County resident, but no other information about the person was shared in the press release. 

Sunday night the Cut Bank Pioneer Press newspaper reported that Toole County resident Bev Rogers had died of COVID-19. The Toole County Health Department did not immediately respond to an email from The Gazette asking for confirmation.

The newspaper said she died Saturday at the Northern Rockies Medical center after being diagnosed last week. They also published a statement attributed to Rogers' family thanking the medical professionals that cared for her and tried to save her life. 

In a statement emailed to statewide media, Governor Steve Bullock offered his condolences for the Madison County COVID-19 victim.

“I’m saddened to hear that a second Montanan has died from COVID-19. No matter in which community we live, the impact of each loss of life has a ripple effect all throughout the state and serves as a reminder of how serious this disease is. Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and community of this Montanan," Bullock said.

Four people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in Madison County with 44 test results returned, according to the county.

The confirmed Madison County cases include a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 50s, and a man and a woman in their 70s. The most recent Madison County confirmed positive case was described as a woman in her "senior years" who had direct contact with another person with COVID-19.

Montana added an additional 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases by 4:30 p.m. Sunday for a total of 161.

A week ago, the state had confirmed 34 cases statewide. Eight people are hospitalized, according to the state's numbers.

On Friday, Marias Medical Center in the Toole County town of Shelby announced in a press release that additional confirmed positive cases in the county included employees of the Marias Heritage Center, a 38-apartment retirement home and assisted living facility. 

"This situation also exposed others to COVID-19 and, as such, we expect there could be other positives," the press release says. 

These cases may be the first in the state associated with a retirement home  or assisted living facility. Visitation to the Marias Heritage Center has been ended, a surveillance and containment strategies had begun, according to the press release.

On Sunday, the state listed five confirmed COVID-19 cases in Toole County. They included a female between the ages of 10 and 19, a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 80s.

Gallatin County gained an additional five cases on Sunday. Gallatin County has the most cases in the state with 62, which accounts for 38% of Montana’s total.

Yellowstone County is next at 26, followed by Missoula County at 11 with two new reported cases. Lewis and Clark County remains at 10. 

Silver Bow County added one additional case for a total of nine by Sunday; Flathead County is now up to eight.

Deer Lodge County reported its first case of COVID-19 Sunday — a woman in her 40s.

Known cases in the following counties remained unchanged by Sunday evening: Cascade has seven; Broadwater and Lake have three; Park has two; Jefferson has two; Lincoln has four; and Ravalli, Meagher, Roosevelt and Hill each have one.

On Thursday evening, the state reported its first death from COVID-19. The man who died was 77-year-old Jim Tomlin, who lived on Bull Lake in Lincoln County, according to his son, G. Scott Tomlin.

His son recounted to the Missoulian last week the details of his father's sharp decline in health and subsequent death. "You will know someone who dies from this," Tomlin said.

Jim Tomlin was in a medically induced coma and being kept alive with a machine when his last rites were read to him over the phone, which is also how his family had to say goodbye.

By Sunday morning, the state public health lab had processed 4,069 tests. That number does not include tests that hospitals or doctors send to private facilities.

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