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More COVID-19 deaths and cases hit area

Blaine County has first two deaths; officials plead with people to slow COVID-19

The statewide surge in COVID-19 continues to hit this area as well, with four new deaths reported, more cases confirmed in Havre schools and a Havre Head Start facility closing for a week.

Blaine County confirmed Friday its first COVID-19-related death and its second death Sunday, and Hill County confirmed its sixth and seventh deaths Saturday.

This comes as the state and local health officials are urging people to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus that causes the disease, with Hill County Health Officer Kim Larson saying Friday that most cases are coming from people gathering in large groups without protection or in congregate settings like schools and care centers.

Officials are urging people to socially distance, wear masks or face coverings when in public settings, to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer, to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and to not go out in public if it is not necessary.

Havre Public Schools confirmed its 11th case in a person associated with the district Friday evening, and confirmed nine more cases Sunday.

Head Start announced that due to a positive COVID-19 test in one of its staff members, all classrooms within the District 4 Human Resources Development building will be closed for this week. 

“Per our policies, we will clean and sanitize the classrooms, and any contact tracing will be completed by the Hill County Health Department,” a Facebook post announced. “At this time, classrooms with the Lincoln and Hillview centers will continue as normal. If that is to change, you will be notified. The health and well-being of our students and their families is our top priority, thank you for your understanding.”

This as the state confirmed this morning a total of 423 new cases on its COVID-19 response tracking map, bringing the state to a total of 19,125 cases, 7,432 active, with 291 active hospitalizations and 212 deaths.

Hill County Health Department reported Sunday 23 new cases confirmed, with the county total at 356 cases, 149 active and two hospitalized.

Blaine County Health Department  reported Friday evening the first COVID-19-related death in the county. It reported Saturday 20 new cases confirmed, one more than its former highest daily total, 19 confirmations reported Tuesday.

Sunday it reported four new cases, taking the county to 145 cases, 87 active with three active hospitalizations.

The state COVID-19 response tracking map reported this morning one new case in Liberty County, which it reports has 27 total cases, six active.

No new cases were reported in Chouteau County on this morning’s update, which lists 47 total cases there, 14 active.

Numbers climbing

The number of confirmed cases has skyrocketed since the state went into its phased re-opening plan, with Phase 2 starting in June.

The state went into a complete lockdown by the end of March, keeping numbers of new cases and deaths among the lowest in the nation.

This part of the state stayed at two cases confirmed in March, one in Hill County and one in Liberty County, to the start of July, with no new cases confirmed in April, May or June.

The state went into Phase 1 of its re-opening in May.

By June 1, the state had confirmed 519 new cases with 41 active cases, two active hospitalizations and six deaths.

By July 1, one month into Phase 2 of the re-opening, the state number of confirmed cases had nearly doubled to 1,019 and the daily number skyrocketed, with 50 new cases confirmed July 1 and 14 active hospitalizations and 22 deaths reported.

The first new cases in Blaine, Chouteau, Hill and Liberty counties were confirmed shortly after that, with Hill County confirming six new cases July 4.

By the start of August, the state was reporting more than 4,200 cases in Montana with 60 new cases and a total of 64 deaths reported Aug. 3.

By Sept. 1, with some schools in the region fully opening, others using a blended plan and others staying on distanced learning only, the state reported a total of 7,509 cases with 93 new cases reported that day, 140 active hospitalizations and 105 deaths, including two in Hill County.

The local numbers also had surged, with Hill County at 88 total cases, Blaine at 15, Chouteau at 11 and Liberty at six.

The new cases and deaths continue to grow, from Hill County’s 88 total cases reported Sept. 1 to Saturday’s 356, from the 15 in Blaine to Saturday’s 91, from 11 in Chouteau to 47 on Saturday morning’s state map and from the six in Liberty to Saturday morning’s 25.

And the increases in the state from Sept. 1 to the Sunday morning update are in the thousands. The state grew from 7,509 total cases to 18,117 and from 1,945 active cases to 6,547 active cases. The number of deaths grew from from 10 to 209, from and from 140 active hospitalizations to 280.

Cases in the schools

Along with the cases reported in Havre’s K-12 schools and Head Start, cases also have been confirmed in the Box Elder and Harlem school districts, leading those districts to return to distanced learning.

Rocky Boy’s school district, in Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation that is going back into lockdown this evening, delayed its plan to switch from distanced-only learning to partial in-school instruction until at least Oct. 30.

Fort Belknap Indian Reservation went into a full shut down mode Oct,. 2, and the Harlem school board in a special meeting today will consider its activities schedule at the request of the Fort Belknap Indian Community.

The Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Friday before the new cases in the Havre district were confirmed, a meeting in which the board voted to continue with the hybrid-blended model the district now is using for teaching through next week. In that model, the students are split into two groups, each attending in-school classes two days and having one day for distanced learning only.

See related story on Page A1 in today’s edition of The Havre Daily News

Hill County Board of Health looking at restrictions

The Hill County Board of Health said during its COVID-19 update meeting Friday that it was looking at making some changes on restrictions to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The board conducted an online survey of county residents on what they thought should be done and said it would be reviewing those suggestions and referring to recommendations including from the state health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More and more businesses in Havre are temporarily closing due to the pandemic, with several already re-opened.

See more on business closures and the Board of Health meeting in stories on Page A1 in today’s edition of the Havre Daily News.


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