March 26 COVID-19 updates: First Montanan dies of COVID-19; Cascade County has another confirmed case; Bullock issues shelter in place; county health officer closes tattoo parlors, salons, spas; Bus service suspended through April 11; Montana now has 90 cases

Tonight, Gov. Steve Bullock announced the first death in Montana of a COVID-19 patient.

“I’m heartbroken to learn of Montana’s first death due to COVID-19. Especially during these times, Montana truly is one big small town-this news hits us hard, but we’re in this together,” Bullock said in a release. “My family and I send our love and support to the family, friends, and community of our fellow Montanan.”

According to the governor’s office, local county public health officials are still in the process of contacting family members and no additional information will be provided at this time.

Sixth confirmed case in Cascade County

The Cascade County City-County Health Department said tonight that there’s another confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to six.

This case is a female in her 20s who had traveled out of state.

Trisha Gardner said that CCHD is conducting a contact investigation and will make sure that anyone who was potentially exposed is informed and given guidance.

Gardner said the woman is isolating at home.

CCHD closes tattoo parlors, salons, spas

The Cascade County City-County Health Department revised its health order effective 11:59 p.m. March 26 through April 10 to close the following to ingress, egress, use and occupancy by members of the public:

  • All body art, tattoo, and piercing establishments;
  • All hair, nail, and cosmetic salons/studios;
  • All hair, nail, and cosmetic schools/training facilities; and
  • All spa and massage services, except those massage services contained within state-licensed physical therapy or chiropractic practices.

CCHD is continuing to conduct contact investigations on the two new cases that were announced in Cascade County March 25 to minimize additional transmission.

March 20 COVID-19 updates: Library offering curbside pickup; Malmstrom AFB raises health protection level; Cascade County declares emergency; county jail still accepting offenders; Bullock orders closures of dine-in food and beverage businesses; Showdown closing; GFPS food drive today at Bison Ford; Great Falls Rescue Mission adjusting operations

“We understand that the community may be concerned to hear of new cases,” Trisha Gardner, county health office said in a release. “I want to stress again that now is the time to be decisive in the measures we take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s why Governor Bullock’s directives and local health orders are so critical right now.”

The full text of the revised Order of Health Officer is available on the CCHD website.

Governor’s briefing

Gov. Steve Bullock ordering shelter in place for Montanans beginning 12:01 a.m. March 28 through April 10.

That means Montanans should stay home except for essential needs, like getting supplies, certain types of work and to take care of others.

The full directive is here.

Bullock said Montanans may also leave home for outdoor recreational activities but to use good judgment and avoid crowded areas.

March 19 COVID-19 updates: health officer orders restrictions on bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc.; city declaring sate of emergency; changes at city attorneys office, animal shelter and Municipal Court; downtown metered parking enforcement suspended; Lewis and Clark Trail Mixer postponed; GFCMSU changing access, operations

“We need to stay in front of this pandemic and slow the growth,” of COVID-19, he said. “We have to do more to curtail the spread of this virus.”

Hospitals and healthcare workers are overwhelmed in other states, he said.

“I don’t want that to become Montana,” Bullock said. “It’s critical we do everything we can to cut off the chain of transmission.”

The order does not affect restaurants and bars offering take-out and curbside service under Bullock’s previous directive.

Bullock said so far, the state had received about 21,000 unemployment claims.

Great Falls Transit

Great Falls Transit has canceled all fixed route services through April 11 due to COVID-19.

Paratransit will provide medical rides only.

Initially, the transit district, which is a stand alone entity and not under the jurisdiction of city government, suspended fixed service routes from March 17-27.

Total cases in Montana

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services there are now 90 cases of COVID-19 across the state. One of those cases is counted in Montana though the woman was tested and remains in Maryland.

So far, according to DPHHS, a total of 2,680 tests have been completed.

state tracking map shows the confirmed cases are as follows by county:

  • Cascade County: 6 cases
  • Gallatin County: 38 cases
  • Yellowstone County: 14 cases
  • Missoula County: 7 cases
  • Flathead County: 5 cases
  • Silver Bow County: 5 cases
  • Lewis and Clark County: 3 cases
  • Madison County: 2 case
  • Broadwater County: 2 case
  • Ravalli County: 1 case
  • Roosevelt County: 1 case
  • Lake County: 1 case
  • Hill County: 1 case
  • Jefferson County: 1 case
  • Glacier County: 1 case
  • Lincoln County: 1 case
  • Meagher County: 1 case
  • Toole County: 1 case

GFPS teacher parade

At 3 p.m. March 26, GFPS staff will be driving around the community in their own school neighborhoods honking, waving and ringing cowbells to greet their students.

From GFPS:

The staff will meet in their own parking lots to gather at 2:45 p.m. and exchange maps for the route that is planned, according to GFPS.

Many students are making posters as a greeting to their teachers as they stand on the driveway waving to the cars.

GFPS Elementary staff will be driving through each school’s attendance zone to see students. It will be a parade of cars. Below is how it will work:

  • At 3 p.m., staff will leave the school’s parking lot. They will attempt to drive down every street in their attendance zone.
  • The teachers will not be stopping to talk or give hugs. They will just be honking their horns and waving. We encourage all students to stay in their own driveway (social distancing). We do not want to create large gatherings of students.
  • As of now, the weather is forecasted to cooperate. If something changes, we will reschedule.
  • Teachers and staff will be wearing their school shirts. Students are welcome to wear theirs as well.