Montana COVID deaths climb to 8; Daines seeks funding for senior living facilities

Coronavirus claimed another Toole County resident on Thursday, bringing the number of deaths in Montana to eight while the number of cases across the state surpassed 415, including 35 in Missoula County.

Toole County has a population of less than 5,000 people, though it accounts for half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Missoula County has a population of 120,000 residents and has reported one death.

“As we learn of the loss of another Montanan due to COVID-19, my heart aches for the community, which has been particularly impacted by this virus, and the family members of this Montanan,” Gov. Steve Bullocks said in a statement. “As we see how COVID-19 can inundate our smaller communities, I urge all Montanans to continue doing their part to protect our most vulnerable from this dangerous virus.”

With the safety of Montana’s elderly and more vulnerable populations a growing concern, Sen. Steve Daines this week sent a letter to the secretary of Health and Human Services, asking that economic relief be directed to nursing homes and senior living facilities.

Nearly half of all hospitalizations and 80% of of deaths associated with the virus have occurred among adults over the age of 65, with the highest percent of sever outcomes among those over 85.

Daines said nursing homes and senior living facilities continue to experience a shortage in staffing and protective equipment, leaving them vulnerable to virus spread, as seen in Toole County and other locations around the country.

“We must not overlook those individuals who work within the senior living community, such as those working in independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities,” Daines wrote.

“Allocating a meaningful level of support from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to this industry is critical to the seniors who call these facilities home as we continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 spread and support our health care providers on the front lines.”