Montana Public Radio

Jesse Slaughter

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter (right) thanks Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls (left), for sponsoring Senate Bill 67, which would remove penalties for law enforcement failing to enforce local health directives, at a meeting of the Montana Sen
Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Service

Montana lawmakers are bringing a slew of bills this session to modify the power of local health officers in a declared state of emergency, like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One bill introduced this week would remove legal penalties for law enforcement who refuse to enforce public health orders.

Active coronavirus cases by Montana County, November 10, 2020.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Republican Governor-elect Greg Gianforte has put together a task force that will help inform the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when he assumes office in January.

Inmate Populations for Select County Jails in Montana
Charles Bolte / Montana Public Radio

County jail populations dropped this spring as the state reacted to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, with cases of COVID-19 on the rise, inmate populations in several of Montana’s largest county jails are growing and cell blocks are crowded. Some advocates are calling for more action to reduce the number of people locked up during this time. But local sheriffs say they’re balancing virus risks and public safety. It’s all leaving some inmates worried about their health.