Flathead County Reports Three Additional COVID-19 Deaths

Number of hospitalizations, active cases higher than at any point during pandemic; flow of new cases slowing slightly from last week’s peak

By Andy Viano
Clinical personnel enters a sectioned-off area of Kalispell Regional Medical Center dedicated to active COVID-19 patients on July 31, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Nineteen Flathead County residents have died as a result of contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the latest figures provided by the Flathead City-County Health Department.

The three most recent deaths have been reported since Sept. 18. Two of the deaths stem from long-term care facilities and the third death is connected to an assisted-living facility. No additional details on the victims or the facilities were made available by the health department. As of Sept. 29, 180 Montanans had died from COVID-19 since the first cases were discovered in the state in March.

As the death toll rises, hospitalizations are also on the rise in Flathead County. Seventeen people were hospitalized as of Tuesday, the highest reported total since the pandemic began. That number has risen steadily this week, with only 10 people hospitalized on Sept. 24.

The county is also in unprecedented territory in terms of known active cases. Health department officials say they are struggling to accurately report a specific number, but for the first time on Monday the department reported the number of active cases as 300-plus (prior reports listed the total as either 100-plus or 200-plus).

Since March, 1,470 positive coronavirus tests have been recorded cumulatively in Flathead County, around 10% of the state’s total caseload. Of those 1,470 positives, 827 (56.3%) have been reported in the month of September. The county reported 19 positives on Sept. 28 and 34 on Sept. 29, the lowest single-day numbers in nearly a week (34 cases were also reported on Sept. 23).

The spike in September cases has been blamed, in part, on a so-called “Labor Day bump” following the long holiday weekend and the re-opening of schools for in-person learning. The most recent state-provided numbers, released on Sept. 23, showed 51 cases had been detected among staff and students in Flathead County schools so far.

The latest data on the coronavirus can be found using the Beacon’s COVID-19 tracker.

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