Hill County sees two more COVID-19-related deaths
Last updated 10/7/2020 at 7:55am
Editor’s note: This version corrects that Kim Larson is Hill County health officer.
Hill County has suffered its fourth and fifth COVID-19-related deaths as numbers of confirmed cases continue to grow in this area and cases and deaths continue upward throughout the state.
Hill County Health Department reported the two deaths Monday afternoon.
Hill County also saw 15 new cases confirmed Monday, while Blaine County saw five, Chouteau County three and Liberty County saw one new case confirmed.
The state set a new record for one-day confirmations with 504 new cases confirmed. The state death toll rose to 192 with the Hill County deaths.
The deaths also come as new cases are spreading in different organizations, with businesses closing in the area due to cases being confirmed and the Havre superintendent of public schools saying new cases and quarantines in the district are straining resources to keep the schools open.
“As long as we can fill the teaching positions, we are going to try to stay open as long as it is safe to do so,” Superintendent Craig Mueller said.
Havre schools saw its second case in a person associated with the district last week, then saw another confirmation Monday. Some of the people confirmed were already in quarantine and did not require contact tracing, others required contact tracing, Mueller said in releases over the period.
The increase in numbers led Rocky Boy Schools to extend its distanced learning through at least Oct. 30, and Harlem and Box Elder schools returned to distanced leaning last week after cases were confirmed in those districts.
Kim Larson, head of Hill County Health Department and the county health officer, said the increase in cases locally appear to be linked to large gatherings where social distancing is not occurring and also a rise in cases in congregate settings, such as Northern Montana Care Center.
Larson said people need to act to slow the spread of the virus.
“Everyone needs to understand that this virus is real, it is contagious, and everyone must do their part to slow the spread. We will not eliminate this virus from our community, but there are things people can do to help slow the spread. Avoid large gatherings, wear a face covering, social distance as much as possible, stay home when you are sick and practice good hand hygiene.
“Our goal needs to be to slow the spread so our health care and public health systems can keep up, and keep our community as safe and healthy as possible,” she added. “Along with those efforts, we need people to work hard to build their immune systems as well. Get exercise, eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, take your vitamins and take care of your mental health.
“This is a hard time for all of us,” Larson said. “We are here doing our best to protect our community, but we can't do it alone. Please do your part and help us slow the spread.”