As you may have noticed, COVID-19 numbers in Montana have been on the rise for weeks. Around mid-September, a combination of things like the re-opening of schools, Labor Day travel, colder weather and more all came together and likely contributed to our daily COVID cases quickly multiplying, dwarfing the numbers we had seen in the past.

Back in July, the Harvard Global Health Institute released an interactive map that was designed to keep people informed on what has happening with COVID cases in their individual counties, their states, and the country as a whole. And as you might expect, right now Montana is not on the part of that map you want to be on.

The map is divided into four color categories - green, yellow, orange, and red - with red representing the most severe growth in COVID cases. And right now, Montana is one of thirteen states in the map that are almost entirely in the red.

According to the map, a state that is in the red in one with 25 COVID cases or more per 100,000 people, and it represents the tipping point for the state. It also means that stay-at-home orders are absolutely necessary - that would mean another shutdown like what we saw back in March, no crowds, strictly outdoor activities, social distancing, masks, and everything else you've been hearing about for months.

Is that likely to happen in Montana? Missoula still requires masks in all indoor public spaces, and some places have started to shut down on their own - either as a precaution or because they came in contact with COVID. Will that be enough to slow the spread? And if it's not, will the government re-enact stay-at-home orders? Only time will tell, but man, I hope we can put the worst of this behind us soon.

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