Montana health officials reported 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a figure that smashes the single-day count at any point during the pandemic.
Gov. Steve Bullock also announced three new deaths, as the virus has infiltrated the Canyon Creek Memory Care Center in Billings. Officials there said 45 residents and 21 employees tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
The facility specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
“Today’s news of three losses is a heartbreaking reminder of the threat this virus presents to vulnerable Montanans,” Bullock said in a statement. “The Montana way has always been about taking care of our neighbors – and we must strive to continue keeping the health of our neighbors in mind. I extend my sympathy to all of the loved ones impacted by these deaths, and I know that everyone in our state will be keeping them in our thoughts.”
The state announced no change in direction despite the surge in cases and deaths, though the Missoula City-County Health Board is set to discuss a mandatory mask rule on Thursday. The health department has received 4,500 emails on the issue, according to county officials.
Also this week, academic leaders from colleges and universities from across the state unanimously agreed to recommend that the Montana University System implement a mandatory mask policy on all state campuses this fall.
Yellowstone County accounted for 46 of the new cases announced on Thursday, bringing its running total to 377. Missoula County recorded 2 new cases, bringing its total case count to 123.