Montana Public Radio

Missoula County

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.

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.'
iStock

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.*

The investigation continues into an alleged arson at a fire station just outside of Kalispell.
Flickr user Ariane Middel (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana's most populous county has seen a sharp increase in violent crime since the coronavirus pandemic began, driven by more domestic abuse and drug-related crimes, federal and local authorities said Tuesday.

Officials in Montana’s second-most populated county support holding an all-mail ballot general election in November.

Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman says voting by mail is the logical choice amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve worked closely with the Board of County Commissioners and think having an all-mail election would be a beneficial way to help ensure great voter turnout, help provide the best services we can while keeping everybody safe," Seaman said.

As the warm, dry conditions of mid-July settle over Montana, fire danger has increased, especially in the west.

Missoula County moved the fire danger to high on Monday, which means all outdoor burning permits for the county have been cancelled for the season.

Several other counties have fire restrictions in place until rescinded to to reduce the chance of out of control fires.

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

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.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.
iStock

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.

The State of Montana reported its second highest single day uptick in COVID-19 cases on Jun. 30. This comes after a new record count was set earlier this week.

This story is part of a series that looks at potentially lasting ways Montana adapted during the pandemic. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network. 

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began advising against face to face interactions, Montana healthcare providers sought to expand non emergency telehealth appointments. It's a trend that could keep going.

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Courtesy St. Patrick Hospital

On Monday, Montana reported a total of 919 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 56 new cases since Sunday. That’s the biggest one-day spike since the pandemic started in March.

This spike has prompted some hospitals to tighten visitor guidelines.

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