Rep. Jones provides update on COVID-19 response in Toole County

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-05 19:58:01-04

Llew Jones, a member of the Montana House of Representatives, said on Sunday that actions are being taken in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Toole County.

As of Sunday morning (April 5), there are now 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toole County, an increase of three from Saturday, according to the latest update from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services ( source/map ). In addition, three of Montana's five COVID-19 deaths have been Toole County residents. The estimated population is about 4,900 for Toole County; for Shelby, the county seat, the number is about 3,200.

The 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."

Jones said in a Facebook post that he participated in an incident update call under the direction of Bob Sandman, the incident commander that is working with Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Pondera County, Toole County, and Glacier County to coordinate the response in this region.

Jones said the following actions are being taken:

  • A deep clean crew is enroute to Marias Medical Center and will arrive at 1 o'clock today to begin work.
  • Great Falls Medical and Kalispell Medical are working to develop a labor pool to address critical shortages. The Incident Command Team will take direct control of the labor pool beginning next week.
  • The National Guard will be in Shelby today, will begin work Monday morning to help with staff shortage in Heritage Center.
  • The National Guard is in process of defining the process for providing ambulance services for Covid transport from the region to Great Falls or Kalispell if needed. This should be operational shortly.
  • A rapid response team is being developed to include telehealth and addressing critical nursing care (plan is to fly nurses to surge areas to deal with critical nursing component)—hopefully this response plan will be in place by Monday. The focus here is to deal with Covid 19 transport and release to home quarantine as needed.

He said: "It is comforting to be able to share that a strong coordinated effort is underway. All the area medical facilities and emergency response groups were represented on the call, with the general report being that the situation, while difficult, was being addressed. I personally am very impressed and thankful for our local healthcare providers and their frontline efforts to keep us all safe."

According to the DPHHS, the Toole County cases are:

  • 1 female between the ages of 10 and 19
  • 3 females between 20-29
  • 2 females between 30-39
  • 1 female between 40-49
  • 1 female and 1 male between 50-59
  • 1 female and 1 male between 70-79
  • 2 females between 80-89
  • 2 females between 90-99

Blair Tomsheck of the Toole County Health Department said in a news release on Friday: "We are working closely with all healthcare entities in Toole County to address these ongoing cases as they are related to current investigations." The TCHD said on Saturday evening that 160 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Toole County to date.

As of Sunday morning (April 5), there have been a total of 286 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and six deaths. The sixth death was confirmed and reported on Saturday by the Missoula City-County Health Department. The other five deaths have been in Toole County (3, see below), Lincoln County (1), and Madison County (1).

Governor Steve Bullock said on Tuesday afternoon that 32 patients in Montana have recovered. No new numbers for recoveries have been released since then. Bullock said during a news conference on Friday that state officials are working to provide updated recovery numbers. Click here for information about recoveries and why it is still difficult to provide accurate data .

Bullock said on Friday that his original "stay at home" order - issued on March 26 and running through April 10 - will likely be extended next week through April 29.

CASES BY COUNTY: Gallatin County - 110 Cases; Yellowstone County - 38 Cases; Flathead County - 24 Cases; Missoula County - 19 Cases; Toole County - 15 Cases; Lewis and Clark County - 14 Cases; Silver Bow County - 11 Cases; Cascade County - 11 Cases; Madison County - 9 Cases; Park County - 6 Cases; Lincoln County - 6 Cases; Broadwater County - 4 Cases; Lake County - 4 Cases; Deer Lodge County - 3 Cases; Jefferson County - 2 Cases; Ravalli County - 2 Cases; Carbon County - 1 Cases; Beaverhead County - 1 Cases; Musselshell County - 1 Cases; Meagher County - 1 Cases; Roosevelt County - 1 Cases; Hill County - 1 Cases; Liberty County - 1 Cases; Glacier County - 1 Cases

US/WORLD: According to Johns Hopkins University , the worldwide numbers as of Sunday morning are: 1,218,474 confirmed COVID-19 cases; 66,542 deaths; and 252,538 patients have recovered. The U.S. numbers as of Sunday morning are: 312,249 confirmed cases; 8,503 deaths; and 15,021 patients have recovered.