Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced the state’s first coronavirus death on Thursday evening. Bullock took to Twitter to share the news, reminding residents that “we’re in this together.”
“I’m heartbroken to learn of Montana’s first death due to COVID-19. Montana truly is one big small town – this news hits us hard, but we’re in this together. My family and I send our love and support to the family, friends, and community of our fellow Montanan,” he wrote. No other information was immediately available.
The news came the same day that Bullock issued a “stay at home directive” and also announced all but “essential” businesses — such as grocery stores and pharmacies — would close in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in the state. Other states have taken similar measures, namely New York, which now leads the country with more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases.
“In consultation with public health experts, health care providers, and emergency management professionals, I have determined that to protect public health and human safety, it is essential, to the maximum extent possible, individuals stay at home or at their place of residence,” Bullock said in a statement. “I am taking these measures today because we need to stay in front of this pandemic and slow the growth of infections. In order to have a healthy economy, we need a healthy population. We cannot rebuild our economic strength without doing everything we can now to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus.”
To date, the state has seen at least 90 cases of the novel virus, according to its coronavirus database.
Alabama also reported its first coronavirus-related death this week in a resident who had underlying health issues. The Jackson County resident “passed away in a facility outside the state of Alabama,” officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health said on Wednesday.
As of Friday morning, the virus has infected more than 542,788 people across 175 countries and territories, resulting in over 21,571 deaths. In the U.S., all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, tallying over 85,996 illnesses and at least 1,300 deaths.