Support Local Journalism


Gallatin County health officials said they’re seeing coronavirus transmission stemming from crowded settings like parties, bars and restaurants. Officials have also issued warnings to Bozeman establishments for not adhering to health orders.

Health officer Matt Kelley said Friday the county is seeing widespread community transmission similar to what the county saw when the COVID-19 pandemic initially struck. Cases are coming from all over the place, he said.

“This is serious, and we need people to take it seriously,” Kelley said.

Gallatin County added six new cases on Friday and three people were infected the prior day, bringing the county’s total to 231. Montana added 26 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the state’s total to 829. A Rosebud County resident died due to complications from the virus, bringing the death toll to 22.

There were 218 active cases in the state with 14 hospitalizations as of Friday.

Yellowstone County saw an increase of six people testing positive for coronavirus from Thursday to Friday, according to a state report. Missoula added five new cases of the virus and Ravalli, Richland, Roosevelt, Flathead and Big Horn counties saw an increase of four or fewer cases.

Among the new cases recently seen in Gallatin County, Kelley said, five were Montana State University students, two were in West Yellowstone and Big Sky had 10 people infected with the virus.

Tracy Ellig, a spokesman for MSU, said the university won’t release information about students, faculty or staff in regards to their health.

Kelley said the county is seeing more people test positive who have mild or no symptoms of the virus. He said that is concerning because it could lead to more transmission when people don’t believe they have the disease.

Another concern of Kelley’s was that the seven-day average of new cases is up 50% over the past two weeks.

Bottom line, he said, is the county needs people to continue avoiding crowds, socially distance, wash hands and wear face coverings when in public. People who feel ill, Kelley said, should call their health care provider and get tested if the health care provider recommends it.

He said there is a “personal responsibility element” to getting through this pandemic.

“If (people) find themselves in a crowded setting, they need to turn around and walk out of it,” Kelley said. “That’s probably the most important thing you could do to protect yourself.”

The health department sent out four letters to Bozeman establishments last week warning them that they were out of compliance with the governor’s orders or the health department’s emergency rule. Kelley said those business have responded well to the warning. Follow-ups showed they made changes to come in compliance with the orders.

He said the county isn’t at the point where it’s going to reinstate restrictions, but he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to progress with reopening plans right now either. The county still has a chance to prevent the uptick in cases seen in other states across the country, Kelley said, but residents here need to do their part.

“Until we start seeing a downturn in cases,” Kelley said, “we’re going to be pretty cautious about how we’re going to deal with reopening.”

Bar owners continue dealing with difficult circumstances, he said, but they still have to adhere to the rules. Kelley said it’s imperative that people continue practicing social distancing as the county is seeing an increase in cases.

“We’re not expecting perfection, but we are expecting effort,” Kelley said.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.