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Coronavirus

Montana Sees a Fresh Spike in COVID-19 Cases in the Past Two Weeks

September 23, 2020

HELENA, Mont. — Montana is seeing a “remarkable increase” in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, the state’s medical officer said Tuesday, as officials urged residents to step up measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and seasonal influenza.

The increase in cases is due to schools and universities reopening, Labor Day weekend gatherings and continuing spread in congregate living settings, such as nursing homes and jails, said Stacey Anderson, state epidemiologist.

Montana’s COVID-19 cases were stable at about 800 per week from when Gov. Steve Bullock issued a mask mandate for most counties in mid-July through early September, said Jim Murphy, head of the Communicable Disease Bureau within the state health department. However, over the past seven days, the state has reported nearly 1,500 cases. The state’s confirmed case total was 10,700 on Tuesday with 163 deaths.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force suggested Montana consider fines for violations of face mask mandates in areas with increasing cases, but Bullock said he will continue to stress personal responsibility with the goal of keeping schools and businesses open. Counties are allowed to implement additional restrictions.

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