County’s active cases drop, public health recommends masks

By 
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Beaverhead County’s active coronavirus case count dropped below four this week, putting it below the threshold to require masks per Gov. Steve Bullock’s mask order.

The county had one new positive virus case compared to a week ago, a significant slowdown in new cases reported compared to the past several weeks.

As of Tuesday, the county tallied 69 total cases with one active, according to the state of Montana virus tracking website. No one was hospitalized and there are no deaths in the county from the virus, according to Beaverhead County Public Health’s Facebook page.

Despite the drop in active cases, Public Health Director Sue Hansen continues to strongly recommend residents wear masks. At the public health board meeting Friday, she called it “silly” to bounce back and forth requiring or not requiring them depending on active case counts. She also expressed fears the county’s cases would increase again with a mix of school reopenings and Labor Day events happening in the next few weeks.

Hansen asked the board if it would consider a potential mask directive for the county that would remove the “four or more active cases” requirement. The board directed Hansen and her staff to draft a document for discussion at the next meeting on Sept. 11. The board also approved plans for the annual Dillon Jaycees parade (see related story).

There were 778 new cases and 13 deaths statewide over the week as of Tuesday, according to the state of Montana website. New deaths were recorded in Big Horn, Missoula, Rosebud, Stillwater and Yellowstone counties. The state tallied 6,624 total positive cases and 97 deaths as of Tuesday.

The most active cases around the state are in Yellowstone (799), Big Horn (185), Flathead (122), and Rosebud (111) counties.

There were more than 5.6 million positive coronavirus cases and more than 176,200 deaths tallied across the nation as of Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.