Montana Public Radio


How To Halloween In A Pandemic

Oct 30, 2020

With Halloween this Saturday, local officials and families across Montana are trying to find ways of keeping the holiday fun while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Halloween is a big deal for Whitefish. Large, raucous parties like this one at Casey’s two years ago draw in adult witches, zombies and pirates from across northwest Montana.

But this year, city officials are not scared of the boogey man. It’s large crowds they’re worried about as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

Signs warning about activity restrictions on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation due to the COVID-19 pandemic stand on all roadway entrances to the reservation, September 2020.
Rob Chaney / The Missoulian

Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is one of the most-visited parks in the country. But this summer, the Blackfeet Nation made the unprecedented call to close the park’s eastern entrances in hopes of keeping COVID-19 off its reservation.

Victor Yvellez brings us this look at the economic fallout of the tribe’s decision.

Enrollment in public schools across the state compared to last year is down roughly 3,300 students, according to state education officials. District administrators and education advocates say many of those students are now being homeschooled. The decline in enrollment could hit school budgets now and in the future.

People evacuating from Bridger Canyon, Sept. 5, 2020. The Bridger Foothills Fire threatened homes and forced evacuations near the fire, which started near the 'M trail' just northeast of Bozeman, MT.

State fire officials say last weekend’s record-shattering winter storm put a decisive end to Montana’s 2020 wildfire season. It will be remembered for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was the first one to take place during a global pandemic.

Mike DeGrosky describes Montana’s 2020 fire season as an oddball.

Mom's Organic Market store in Virginia with customer sign to wear face mask covering beyond this point to protect employees during Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak

Enforcement of state COVID-19 health restrictions will head to court in Flathead County in early November. The restraining orders filed by Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration in Flathead County District Court last week followed growing tension between local officials about how and if to enforce public health restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Missoula County Tuesday announced a health order that reduces the number of people allowed to gather for events and in some businesses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Starting Thursday at 8 am, events and gatherings in Missoula will be limited to 25 people. That includes parties and receptions, meetings, farmers markets, concerts, sporting events, organized youth activities.

It's less than two weeks before election day and Montana on Thursday again set a new record for COVID-19 cases reported in a single day with more than 900. Whoever is elected as Montana's next governor will inherit oversight of the state's response to the pandemic. Yellowstone Public Radio's Nicky Ouellet and Rachel Cramer discuss what the candidates are and aren't saying about how they'd handle the public health crisis.

Results released Friday from Montana State University’s pre-election poll show Montanans across all party affiliations are feeling more uncertain about the safety of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Sign on a business door that says 'Attention: for the safety of our patrons and employees, masks are required for entry. Thank you for helpping slow the spread of COVID-19.'

The vast majority of Montana counties aren’t taking Gov. Steve Bullock up on his offer to help pay for the enforcement of public health guidelines aimed at slowing a surge in COVID-19 cases. It's been two weeks since the governor offered extra support in federal CARES Act funds to pay for counties' enforcement work.*

Montana State Prison remains on lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak ballooned since being discovered last week.

Over the past week MSP has conducted over 500 tests, which confirmed 81 positive cases or nearly 6 percent of the inmate population as of Thursday. MSP started a quarantine lockdown on Oct. 16.