Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on July 15 signed an executive order mandating that residents in certain counties must wear facial coverings while in public in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“Effective immediately, face coverings will be required in certain indoor spaces and for certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or more active cases of COVID-19 to slow the spread of the virus in Montana,” Bullock, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet.
The directive requires masks in indoor spaces open to the public and at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, in situations where social distancing is not possible.
Counties with three or fewer active cases are exempt from the mask-wearing mandate, as are children under 5 years of age. In both cases, however, facial coverings “are strongly encouraged,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Other exceptions include while eating or drinking at bars and restaurants, while engaging in exercise, speaking in front of a socially distanced audience, or for people with health conditions that would make it unsafe for them to wear a mask.
“Many Montanans answered the call to mask up—a call that came from our hospitals, nurses, and doctors, our vibrant small business community, our frontline workers, and our high-risk neighbors,” Bullock said in a statement. “I thank all of those who take seriously their personal responsibility and their role in stopping COVID-19. But we need even more Montanans, and the visitors who come here, to mask up.”
President Donald Trump and public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 14 recommended Americans wear masks when necessary to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly bug.
After flattening its COVID-19 new daily infection curve through May and June, Montana has seen a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, with the public health department on July 15 reporting 145 new infections. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 2,096, including a total of 34 deaths.
The number of new daily infections has surged in the United States in recent weeks to levels roughly twice as high as during the first peak in April, according to a Worldometers compilation of official data. However, the number of new daily deaths due to the virus has fallen nationally to between one third and one half of the April peak.
The United States reported more than 71,750 new cases of COVID-19 on July 15, according to the Worldometers tally.