Flathead Health Officials Confirm 6th Death Tied to Long-Term Care Facility

As the outbreak at a Whitefish facility continues to grow, the fatality rate among those infected has climbed to 13%

By Tristan Scott
Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation in Whitefish on August 28, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County health officials on Friday announced the sixth death associated with an outbreak of COVID-19 that continues to spread through a long-term care facility in Whitefish, where the fatality rate among infected residents has risen to 13%.

According to a press release from the Flathead City-County Health Department, which did not identify the facility, the death brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Flathead County up to nine. Last week, the Flathead Beacon confirmed that the facility at the center of the outbreak is the Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation Center.

“This long-term care facility continues to be a major outbreak, with more than 50% of residents having tested positive for COVID-19 since August,” the release states. “The COVID-19 specific fatality rate for this outbreak is 13% for the time period of August 9 through September 3. This means that 13% of positive COVID-19 cases in this facility have died from COVID-19 since August 9.”

On Sept. 3, Flathead City-County Interim Health Officer Tamalee St. James Robinson said department personnel had confirmed 51 positive cases of COVID-19 as a result of the outbreak, including residents and staff, and that the number was rising almost daily.

The facility’s executive director, Reid Crickmore, told the Beacon last week that the outbreak stems from an “asymptomatic person” and that the spread continues despite efforts to contain it, including through “robust cleaning.”

Health officials consider an outbreak active until it generates no additional positive cases for a period of two weeks.

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