News & Features

Montana’s New COVID-19 Cases Include Care Facility Resident

Firefighter in Missoula and nursing home resident in Billings among recent rash of confirmed coronavirus infections

HELENA — Montana has reported 136 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, including a nursing home resident in Billings and a firefighter in Missoula.

The state has reported 248 cases, or nearly one-third of its known 766 cases, since June 1, when it entered its second phase of reopening the economy. Twenty-three cases were discovered from among over 1,100 tests run on Tuesday.

State officials have said increased testing and lifting restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were expected to lead to increased case numbers, in part due to catching asymptomatic cases.

However, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased from one on June 5 to 17 on Tuesday. The state has 174 people known to be currently infected with COVID-19, 571 people are considered recovered and 21 people have died.

Avantra Billings confirmed Wednesday that a resident tested positive after questions from The Billings Gazette.

“The facility is unsure where our resident came into contact with a carrier of COVID-19,” regional director of operations Michael Speidel said. The resident was admitted to Avantra from a hospital on June 17 and transferred back to the hospital Monday, where the person tested positive for COVID-19. “We are nonetheless taking full precautionary measures at the facility.”

No one else working or living at the facility has tested positive, Speidel said.

A new case confirmed Monday involved a Missoula firefighter, city officials said. The health department has identified the firefighter’s potential contacts, including law enforcement and ambulance personnel, and they will be quarantined at home.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock planned a press conference Wednesday afternoon to address the increased cases and contact tracing efforts that have identified some clusters of the respiratory virus.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. 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.