Covid-19 tests

Health care workers file COVID-19 tests at a drive-up testing facility at St. Peter's Health on March 24 in Helena. 

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Montana reached 71 known cases of COVID-19 by Thursday morning, according to test results announced by the state.

That's a rise of three cases from the night before. Numbers released by the state Thursday morning capture test results that come in after the state's 4:30 p.m. press release Wednesday. About 2,200 people have been tested at the state public health lab in Montana. 

Two smaller, more rural counties in northwestern Montana, Glacier and Lincoln, picked up their first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, over the last two days.

So did Hill County, with a larger population center of Havre. Cases are identified by county, not town, because of concerns about patient privacy, so it's not possible to narrow down a patient's precise location within a county.

Gallatin County still has the most known cases in the state by almost double the next closest county, at 24.

Yellowstone County has 13, Missoula has six, Cascade and Flathead each have five, Butte-Silver Bow and Lewis and Clark each have four, Madison and Broadwater have two, and Jefferson, Ravalli, Roosevelt, Hill, Glacier and Lincoln each have one.

The state also reported its first hospitalization from the coronavirus Wednesday. The hospitalization figure could include hospitalizations when the test was performed after the patient was admitted to the hospital. An official said the state could not provide more information about the hospitalization because of privacy reasons.

Gov. Steve Bullock has issued an order of emergency in Montana and public K-12 schools are closed, as are universities. Businesses like bars and gyms, where people congregate, are closed, though some can offer to-go options.

The governor has also prohibited nonessential social and recreational gatherings of more than 10 people outside a home or place of residence, if a distance of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained. He also told stores to follow rules keeping people 6 feet apart, though he exempted essential places like grocery stores, health care facilities and pharmacies

Also this week, Bullock said counties could choose to conduct the June 2 by mail.

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