HELENA – For the first time since the Montana state lab started running tests for coronavirus, the health department reported no positive COVID-19 tests among the 153 tests that were performed on Sunday. Toole County, in north-central Montana, reported its fifth COVID-19 death on Monday, raising the state’s total to 11.
The latest victim was a woman in her 80’s who was not identified.
All 29 of the cases in Toole County, population about 4,800 residents, have been because of close contact rather than community transmission, said Blair Tomsheck, director of the Toole County Health Department. Nearly all are tied to an assisted living facility and to the hospital in the city of Shelby, officials have said.
Montana has reported 433 cases of COVID-19, with just over 11,000 tests performed.
Nineteen people were still hospitalized out of 57 who required hospital treatment. Montana has reported a steady decrease in new cases since March 26, when 35 cases were reported. Gov. Steve Bullock said last Friday he was moving toward lifting some restrictions when the current stay-at-home directives expire this Friday.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and trouble breathing. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
In other coronavirus-related developments in Montana:
— The state health department has expanded some of mental health services after an increased number of calls to the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Montana Warmline following the coronavirus outbreak. The latter telephone service offers people the opportunity to talk to people in recovery from mental illness or treatment issues.
— The health department is spending $25,000 to an online cognitive behavioral therapy program called Thrive. It helps people navigate anxiety and stress. The funding is meant to provide free access for adults. Between April 8 and 13, 200 people enrolled, The Billings Gazette reports.
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