BILLINGS — Montana reported 25 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Thursday, the most in a single day since late March as the number of infections in the state continues to trend back up.
The new reports came from every region of the state, including two cases in Richland County in the northeast and four cases each in Big Horn County in the southeast, Gallatin county in the southwest and Flathead County in the northwest.
No new deaths were reported, leaving the number of fatalities at 20. State officials have attributed the increase in confirmed cases over the past several weeks to moves to reopen the economy and increased testing for the virus.
The trend will likely worsen as the reopening progresses, the officials said.
The state has only had so many infections on two other days — March 26, when 35 cases were recorded, and March 28, when 25 cases were registered.
The continued troubles on the public health front came as applications for unemployment benefit payments in Montana continued their decline from the record high levels seen earlier this spring, according to the latest numbers form the U.S. Employment and Training Administration.
The number of unemployment benefit applications submitted in Montana during the week ending June 13 fell 2.1% compared to the previous week, to 3,013.
As of June 6, almost 43,000 people in the state were receiving unemployment benefits. That represents 9% of all eligible employees in the state. The maximum weekly payment is $1,152, which includes the federal supplement of $600 per week.
Since mid-March, the state has processed almost 115,000 unemployment claims, representing 25% of the eligible workforce.
The state is now testing everyone who comes in close contact with people who have the virus — whether they are symptomatic and asymptomatic. Previously, only symptomatic close contacts were tested.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.