Jim Tomlin

Jim Tomlin

KALISPELL - The coronavirus has claimed the first life from Montana. A 77-year-old man from Lincoln County who passed away at a Kalispell hospital.

Jim Tomlin died from COVID-19 seven minutes after Gov. Bullock declared a stay at home order for Montana on March 26, according to son Scott Tomlin.

Scott said that his father started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on March 23. Jim was rushed to a hospital over 30 miles from his home, alone, because of possible COVID-19 exposure. Several tests were run at the hospital and ultimately Jim tested positive for COVID-19.

After a roller coaster of feeling better and getting worse, Jim's family told him they loved him over the phone and later Jim passed.

Scott had a message for those that might think not think this pandemic is that serious.

"The odds are not in your favor. A man in rural Montana got the disease, there is no hiding. You will be affected by it, your family will, your friends will, and sheltering in place is the key to slow this," said Scott. "You would not wish his father's story on anyone, but by not following the Governor's order, you are saying you would."

Scott also said that to those who might be going through what he went through, losing a loved one to this virus, you are not alone. Social media and phones aren't replacements but they help so much, especially in a time like this. Scott said sharing his story has shown the kind of support that is out there and we are all going through this pandemic together.

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