Montana health officials reported more than 160 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, followed by 84 more cases and several deaths on Monday.
Over the last four days, nearly 370 new cases of the virus have been reported.
Both Yellowstone and Gallatin counties have reported more than 400 cases each, and Billings raced past its 500th case on Monday, bringing its total to 525. Neither county has issued a mandatory face mask order, though Gallatin County health officials are poised to consider one on Tuesday.
“What we’re really trying to do is find ways to reduce transmission of the disease without shutting down businesses, without moving back in our reopening,” Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley told MTN News. “We have a really large number of cases right now. We have more cases right now than we’ve ever had.”
Missoula and Big Horn counties are the only two in the state to have adopted a requirement to wear face masks. Most businesses in Missoula were in compliance by Friday, with some taking extra precautions by placing an employee at the door to remind customers of the new rule.
Some businesses had face masks on hand in the event a customer forgot one.
Statewide, 32 people have died from the virus and 28 are currently being hospitalized. The state has reported a total of 1,843 cases with 936 considered active.