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Montana adds 148 COVID-19 cases in Friday update
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Montana adds 148 COVID-19 cases in Friday update

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Montana added another 148 new cases of COVID-19 in a Friday update to the state's case mapping website. 

Friday's update showed the state with 15,849 active cases, and 452 people hospitalized due to COVID-19. 

Since the pandemic hit, more than 650 Montanans have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Data released Friday showed 657 total deaths in the state, whereas data released Thursday showed 658. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement included with the daily figures that two deaths in Lincoln and Roosevelt counties were determined to be non-COVID-19-related. Another death was added in Hill County on Friday, for a net daily decrease in one death. 

The department also noted that many counties did not report their daily COVID-19 numbers to the state on Thanksgiving Day, so statewide numbers were lower Friday and expected to rise in subsequent days.  

Not quite half, or 44%, of the state's total COVID-19 cases confirmed through testing have come in November alone. As of Friday a total of 59,796 Montanans had tested positive. 

As of Thursday, the three largest hospitals in the state had between 70% and 90% of their beds occupied, according to a report from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Those are Billings Clinic, Benefis Hospitals in Great Falls and St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings. 

That DPHHS report also showed approximately 35% of the state's total hospital beds and 34% of ICU beds as currently available. The state's supply of ventilators appeared relatively unburdened, with 85% of the machines across the state being available. 

Nationwide, 254,530 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to The COVID-19 Tracking Project. 

The new daily case count on Friday was lower than it's been recently, but that is not likely an indication of slowing spread.

Both testing and reporting were expected to dip in the days around the Thanksgiving holiday and rise afterward. 

Public health experts urged people to stay home over the holiday to reduce spread of the virus, warning a continued increase in cases during the winter months could overwhelm hospitals also treating seasonal flu patients. 

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