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Timeline charts state’s first month of virus battle

by Kianna Gardner
Daily Inter Lake | April 15, 2020 1:00 AM

Monday marked one month since the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced the state’s first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on March 13 and since then, much has unfolded. Here is a recap of what has happened between then and now in the United States, in Montana and in the Flathead Valley and surrounding areas.

March 11 — The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic after the virus is confirmed in more than 110 countries. It is the first time the organization announces an outbreak as a pandemic since the swine flu in 2009.

March 12 — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declares a state of emergency one day before the state experiences its first COVID positive cases.

March 13 — Bullock announces state’s first four “presumptively positive cases” — one woman and three men from four separate counties. Montana was one of the last states in the nation to confirm positive cases of coronavirus. President Trump announces a state of emergency to access more than $40 billion in emergency funds to combat the virus.

March 15 — Bullock orders public K-12 schools statewide to temporarily close their doors. The Whitefish Mountain Resort ends winter season early in an effort to halt the spread of the virus and most events throughout the valley, including St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, are canceled.

March 18 — Flathead County declares a state of emergency in order to gain access to additional emergency funding to cover the costs of testing and other preparatory measures related to COVID.

March 19 — Bullock issues a statewide travel advisory for Montanans who have traveled internationally, asking these individuals to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.

March 20 —Bullock orders restaurants (except for curbside and take-out) and other businesses to close statewide and the Flathead City-County Health Department announces the valley’s first two confirmed cases of COVID. The individuals, according to a press releases, were a physician with Kalispell Regional Healthcare and an Illinois resident.

March 21 — Kalispell Regional Healthcare officials announce the temporary cancellation of elective surgeries and other measures in order to guarantee the hospital has enough staff and supplies to treat an expected influx of COVID patients.

March 22 — President Trump approves major disaster declarations for both California and Washington state; Italy experiences nearly 60,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and in the U.S., the virus has been confirmed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

March 25 — Toole County, population under 5,000, announces its first case.

March 26 — A man from Troy in Lincoln County becomes the state’s first COVID-related fatality. The governor orders a shelter-in-place directive for all Montanans through April 10, which is later extended to April 24. Montana experiences its largest peak in new daily cases at 35 recorded positives.

March 27 — Montana Free Press releases article showing vacation rentals revenues were up in Montana as the outbreak spread in early March.

March 28 — Glacier National Park closes to visitors in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

March 29 — President Trump extends his voluntary national shutdown through April 30 after the nation’s death toll, namely in New York, continued to surge.

March 30 — The third and fourth deaths in Montana are recorded in Toole County just days after a local health center announced there were positive cases in an assisted-living facility in Shelby.

April 3 — Gallatin County, the consistent leader in coronavirus positives in the state, surpasses 100 cases.

April 5 — Whitefish becomes the first city in the state to implement a temporary emergency ordinance preventing short-term rentals and hotels in from accepting reservations. Data from Montana’s coroanvirus task force shows the state has more than 300 cases.

April 6 — Flathead County’s positive confirmed cases goes past 30 a little more than two weeks after the valley’s first cases are announced.

April 7 — Evidence of community spread emerges in Flathead County, joining other areas of the state, including Missoula and Gallatin counties. Bullock extends school and business closures to April 24.

April 11 — Toole County gains its 25th COVID positive. Fourteen of the individuals are 60 years of age and older.

April 13 — The Flathead City-County Health Department announces the valley’s first COVID-related death. A press release states the man was over the age of 65 and had preexisting conditions. Kalispell Regional Healthcare, citing issues related to deep losses in revenue, announces pay cuts for executives, doctors and others and additional furlough measures that will impact about 600 employees.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4407 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com