On Tuesday, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health will hold a special meeting where they will consider two emergency measures in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Bozeman area. The two emergency health rules to be discussed are:

1) A new emergency health rule that would require use of face coverings by most people within most indoor public settings, including retail businesses, bars and restaurants, government buildings and schools, and most other public indoor settings. The measure includes exceptions for certain people, including children under the age of 12 and people with medical conditions that would be exacerbated by face coverings.

2) An extension of the Board’s emergency rule requiring people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to remain in isolation until they are no longer contagious. The rule also requires quarantine of close contacts of known cases and those who are symptomatic and awaiting test results. Isolation and quarantine requirements are a fundamental tool used for decades by public health officials to limit spread of disease and save lives.

How Will These Rules Be Enforced & What is the Penalty For Not Following Them?

According to special documents sent out with the meeting's agenda, penalties for not complying could be fines of more than $500 and even imprisonment.

“The intention of the face coverings rule is to allow the Board to consider all options to slow the spread of the disease and to keep businesses open and the economy moving,” said Matt Kelley, MPH, Health Officer for Gallatin County. “We are seeing rising case numbers every day and these measures are our best options to slow spread without closing businesses or issuing stay-at-home orders.” 

Going into the weekend, Gallatin County had 81 active cases of COVID-19, according to the health department, but only one person hospitalized for the coronavirus. As of Friday's numbers, which are the last to be released from the Gallatin City-County Health Department, we've had seven people hospitalized out of 405 cases (less than 2%) and one person who died from the virus. Our death rate is .002.

Here's how our numbers in Gallatin County compare to the state as a whole. Montana has seen 1,758 cases of COVID-19 across its 56 counties with 128 serious enough for hospitalization (7%). To date, the state has recorded 29 total deaths for a death rate of .016.

The national death rate for those testing positive for the coronavirus is .04.

Tuesday's Health Board meeting is open to the public. It will be held at:

The Commons (Baxter & Love Lane)

Tues, July 14, at 7 a.m.

The board is urging people to send public comments via email to help keep folks safe and social distanced. Public comments can be sent to the board via email to BOHPublicComment@gallatin.mt.gov.

The Board will accept written comments until 4 PM on Monday, July 13.