Cascade County was doing well a few weeks ago but numbers have since been on the rise: 38 people per 100,000 infected last week and 44 per 100,000 this week. Local health leaders have said we should be closer to around 25 per 100,000 before a full reopening and these new numbers aren't promising.
Helena, Mont.- Friday marks a big day for Montana as Governor Gianforte's restriction rollback began at 5 a.m. This means many small businesses, restaurants, and bars are no longer forced to close by 10 p.m. or follow 50% maximum capacity orders. Not every county will enjoy fewer restrictions and later hours.
Cascade and Gallatin counties won't be following the Governor's new directive because some have chosen to continue with strict public health guidelines. According to Cascade County Public Health Officer Trisha Gardner, local jurisdictions have had this power all along.
Gardner says they can't go back on the Governor's statewide mandate but can continue local public health restrictions to try and drive down high positive cases. If local orders are currently in place, they can be upheld if the respective Board of Health decides to do so.
"Slowly creeping up which is not the direction we want to be going in. We've talked all along that there could be a spike after Christmas and New Year's
and potentially we could be seeing a little bit of that but I really just encourage everybody to keep taking those steps to be cautious about this. This is not the time to let up even though we have the vaccine coming," said Gardner.
She adds, Cascade County will hold a special Board of Health meeting sometime next week to readdress issues and listen to public comment.
When it comes to the size of public gatherings there's no longer a specific limit at the statewide level, but this is up to counties' discretion as well.
The statewide mask mandate remains in effect across the state. Governor Gianforte has hinted at plans to repeal this too once legislation is passed to cover business' liability. We'll continue to follow this developing story.
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