Montana Public Radio


Gallatin County officials had planned to discuss mandating face coverings on July 14 but postponed the meeting after people seeking to give public comment refused to maintain physical distancing.

Health officials said the space for the in person- public meeting could accommodate around 100 people sitting in chairs spaced six feet apart, a measure intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow the state’s reopening guidelines.

Tax calculator

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring, the federal government postponed the traditional April 15 income tax filing deadline until Wednesday, July 15. The Montana filing deadline falls on the same day.

A man on the street wearing a mask and holding a phone.

The Whitefish City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring individuals to use masks or face coverings inside businesses and in public when social distancing is not possible.

Care Home Refused Free Tests. Now, Nearly Everyone Has Virus

Jul 14, 2020
On June 24, assisted living businesses and workers asked the Montana Legislature to increase payments for day-to-day services for seniors and people with disabilities.

It was meant to be a last line of defense to protect the most vulnerable as the coronavirus spread across the United States: Montana officials offered free testing in May for staff and residents at assisted living and long-term care facilities.

But not all of them followed through, according to state data, including a facility in Billings that cares for people with dementia and other memory problems.

The virus has infected almost every resident there and killed eight, accounting for almost a quarter of Montana's 34 confirmed deaths. Thirty-six employees also have tested positive.

Smoke from the Rice Ridge Fire hangs over Seeley Lake, MT, August 2017.

As the number of coronavirus cases in Montana rise, public health officials and researchers say smoke from the upcoming wildfire season could make people more susceptible to catching the virus, and make patient outcomes much more deadly.

Yellowstone National Park said Monday it hosted over half a million visitors in June. That’s around one-third less than the same time in 2019.

Six more residents of a corrections facility in Billings have tested positive for COVID-19 amid a steep rise in cases in the county where it’s located.

Four new cases were discovered after all Alpha House pre-release center residents were tested July 9. Another two cases came from individuals who displayed symptoms before testing, making eight infected facility residents in total.

“So we have a better feel for where we really are. We hope," says David Armstrong, CEO of Alternatives, Inc., which runs Alpha House for the Montana Department of Corrections.

Empty school classroom

The Governor’s Office and the Office of Public Instruction put out two separate plans earlier this month providing guidance to school districts as they try to hash out what K-12 education might look like in the fall. Districts say both plans are by and large the same, but lack some specifics.

Blurred ferris wheel and lights from a fair.

Organizers of the Northwest Montana State Fair and Rodeo voted Thursday to hold the five-day event in August despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases statewide. The fair attracted about 15,000 people per day in 2019.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.

Missoula County health officials Thursday mandated mask use in almost all indoor public settings. The rule, designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, takes effect immediately.

The new mask requirement doesn’t mean Missoulians have to put on a face covering the moment they leave the house, but they should keep one handy.