The Toole County Health Department in Shelby announced on Friday that two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the county to eight.
In addition, three of Montana's five COVID-19 deaths have been Toole County residents. The estimated population of Toole County is about 4,900; for Shelby, the number is about 3,200.
According to the DPHHS website, the six previously confirmed COVID-19 cases in Toole County are: female between ages of 10-19; female between 40-49; male and female between 79-79; female between 89-89; female between 90-99.
MTN News has received several unconfirmed reports that the three deaths in Toole County were residents of an assisted living facility or nursing home, but TCHD officials have so far declined to confirm or deny the reports.
TCHD director Blair Tomsheck 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."
Shelby mayor Gary McDermott said he was in contact with county health department leaders on Thursday, and stressed that a unified voice was key when it comes to communication with the public and addressing rumors during a pandemic.
In response to the outbreak, civic leaders in Shelby announced that they will create a Joint Information Center in order to provide a central point of contact for COVID-19 information in the county. The center is expected to be operational on Monday, April 6th.
As of Friday morning (April 3), there have been a total of 243 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and five deaths. Governor Steve Bullock said on Tuesday afternoon that 32 patients in Montana have recovered. No new numbers for recoveries have been released since then. There have now been 24 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana. As of Thursday morning, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 5,576 tests for COVID-19.
The first COVID-19 death in Montana was Lincoln County resident Jim Tomlin, whose death was reported on Friday . On Sunday, the death of a Madison County resident was announced. On Monday, officials in Toole County confirmed two deaths attributed to COVID-19. On Tuesday, Governor Steve Bullock said there has been a fifth death; we learned on Wednesday that he was referring to this latest Toole County death.
Here is list by county of the confirmed cases as of Friday morning in Montana: Gallatin County - 93 Cases; Yellowstone County - 36 Cases; Flathead County - 18 Cases; Missoula County - 17 Cases; Lewis & Clark County - 13 Cases; Silver Bow County - 11 Cases; Cascade County - 11 Cases; Madison County - 6 Cases; Park County - 6 Cases; Toole County - 6 Cases; Lincoln County - 6 Cases; Lake County - 4 Cases; Deer Lodge County - 3 Cases; Broadwater County - 3 Cases; Jefferson County - 2 Cases; Carbon County - 1 Cases; Ravalli 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
Officials know that the number of actual cases is much higher, and are continuing to test in accordance with CDC guidelines. The "recovery rate" for Montana has not yet been determined, as COVID-19 is still relatively new in our state and there is not enough data to calculate an accurate rate at this point.
Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site .