News & Features

Covering the Coronavirus Outbreak

A roundup of stories and information related to the impacts of coronavirus in Montana and the Flathead Valley

Editor’s Note: As the scope of the coronavirus outbreak comes into focus and the disruptions to our daily lives mount, the Flathead Beacon remains dedicated to gathering the most up-to-date information possible. With rapid developments occurring globally, nationally and at the state and county levels, we can expect additional impacts to our health care and education systems, travel, commerce, and hospitality, as well as other social consequences that remain to be seen. In an effort to help readers easily find the information they need, the Beacon is curating its coverage of the pandemic here. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here or you have news to share, please contact us at news@flatheadbeacon.com or call our office at (406) 257-9220. Additional Montana-related coronavirus information from the state health department can be found here.

The Beacon is also producing a podcast recapping the latest developments related to COVID-19. The most recent episode, recorded on Monday, April 27, is available here. You can subscribe to the podcast by searching “Flathead Beacon” on Apple, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dr. Jay Evans leads a University of Montana research team that was awarded $2.5 million in NIH funding to advance a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Courtesy of UM

Development of COVID-19 Vaccine, Tests Advancing in Montana

University of Montana receives federal funding to further vaccine research; two private research firms involved in coronavirus work have ties to Whitefish venture capitalist Mike Goguen

Researchers at the University of Montana and two Missoula-based biotech companies with ties to venture capitalist Mike Goguen are engaged in separate efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and gain authorization for a mass-scalable viral test.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Big Mountain Fire Chief Ben DeVall, left, and retired Blankenship Fire Chief Ed Burlingame at the Flathead 911 Emergency Communications Center on April 22, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Behind the Scenes of a Pandemic

Members of the Flathead County incident management team bring experience from wildfire emergencies and other disasters to take on COVID-19

As a retired fire chief for the Blankenship Fire Department in Columbia Falls, Ed Burlingame is no stranger to emergencies or disasters.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Fourth-grade Stillwater Christian School teacher Rya Diede and her son Cal Diede participate in a physically-distant parade on April 24, 2020. Teachers and staff waved from the curb as their elementary students drove by. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

School Districts Preparing for ‘New Normal’ this Fall and Beyond

Gov. Steve Bullock gave schools the option to re-open on May 7 but local leaders say following safety guidelines and returning to traditional methods is a major challenge

The phased reopening of Montana that was announced last week gives school districts the option to welcome students and teachers back into their buildings as early as May 7, but superintendents throughout Northwest Montana are preparing for the likelihood that schools won’t be back to “normal” even when the 2020-21 academic year begins.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Port of Roosville north of Eureka. Beacon File Photo

Canadian Customers Dwindle in Eureka, Roosville Amid Border Restrictions

U.S.-Canada border will be closed for non-essential travel until at least late May; affected businesses worry about long-term impacts

Dave Clark has never seen it this quiet.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Beacon file photo

Bullock Unveils Plans for Phased Reopening

Montana bars, restaurants and retail shops can begin to reopen in coming days and weeks, while schools will have option of resuming in-classroom teaching

Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday unveiled a blueprint to begin easing statewide restrictions set in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, allowing bars, restaurants and retail businesses to reopen with required protocols in the coming days and weeks while giving school districts the option to resume in-classroom teaching.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Clements Mountain as viewed from near the Logan Pass Visitor Center along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park on June 5, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Road to Reopening

Concerns for health of staff, gateway communities, seasonal workers and visitors are complicating the reopening of national parks shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic

As superintendent of Glacier National Park, Jeff Mow has grappled with wildfires and wayward bears, flash floods and fatal avalanches. He’s tangled with budget deficits and government shutdowns, climate change and record-setting throngs of visitors that stretch the park’s infrastructure to maximum capacity.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kalispell Regional Healthcare. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Hospitals Reporting Steep Revenue Losses Due to COVID-19

State hospital leader calls Montana an “island of public-health success” with low infection rate, but response has come at financial cost

Health-care officials say Montana hospitals have been critical to a COVID-19 response that has kept the state’s per-capita infection rate among the lowest in the nation, but the flipside of that response for hospitals has been significant revenue declines.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Zoom is videoconferencing service that has exploded in popularity amid the coronavirus outbreak. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Local Governments See Challenges and Success in Shift to Online Meetings

A “Zoom bombing” mired a recent Columbia Falls City Council meeting, but governments are mostly reporting a smooth transition

Just like everyone, local municipal governments have had to take a crash course in online meeting platforms, with varying degrees of success.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A stretch of Highway 93 between Whitefish and Kalispell as seen around 6 p.m. Saturday, March 28, 2020. Traffic on the Flathead Valley’s main routes is light since the arrival of COVID-19 in Northwestern Montana. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Bullock Announces Phased Reopening of Economy, Eased Restrictions

Montana plans to begin phased reopening following stay-at-home directive expiration on April 24

Gov. Steve Bullock announced on Friday that the state plans to begin a phased reopening of the Montana economy following the April 24 expiration of the stay-at-home order and other directives.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dr. Annie Bukacek, a member of the Flathead City-County Health Board, participates in a protest with about 30 other people in front of Kalispell City Hall on April 6, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Public Calls for Ouster of Physician from Flathead Health Board

Dr. Annie Bukacek protested Kalispell’s state-of-emergency declaration and says government exaggerated death toll from coronavirus

Controversy is intensifying over a physician serving on the Flathead City-County Board of Health who has openly defied state and local policies guarding against the coronavirus outbreak, prompting widespread calls for her removal and a petition demanding she be ousted from the appointed position.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Glacier Park International Airport parking lot in Kalispell is mostly empty on April 3, 2020. Flights have decreased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19 and Montana Governor Bullock’s request for all non-essential travelers to stay away from Montana. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

GPIA Airline Passenger Traffic Plummets to 20 Per Day

Glacier Park International Airport estimates steep drop in revenue, delays expansion project

Glacier Park International Airport is seeing significant drops in airline traffic and revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, echoing a nationwide trend.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Colten and Amanda Hart, owners of Hartstone Designs, a new face mask manufacturing company in Kalispell, are pictured on April 8, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Businesses Shift to PPE Production

Local manufacturing companies are switching gears to make facemasks and face shields for frontline workers and the community

In 2016, Amanda and Colten Hart dove into the magical world of the wooden Harry Potter wand-making business, which later transitioned into furniture making. Fast forward to 2020, and they are now manufacturing facemasks.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Pauline Davidson, a third grade teacher at Creston School in Creston on April 10, 2020. Schools in Montana have reverted to remote learning in light on the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving classrooms and playgrounds empty. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Faces of Resiliency

From teachers to grocers, the Flathead Valley adapts in a time of crisis

Every weekday morning, Pauline Davidson and her three children gather for breakfast and chat about their day. A few hours later, they break for lunch and do the same.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kalispell Regional Healthcare. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell Regional Healthcare Furloughing Roughly 600 Employees

Hospital says COVID-19 pandemic causing steep revenue losses due to halted services, patient volume declines

Kalispell Regional Healthcare announced today that it will furlough roughly 600 employees beginning April 15 due to steep revenue declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Chris Krager, executive director of Samaritan House. Beacon file photo

Local Coalition Establishing Temporary Shelter for Valley’s Homeless Population

Samaritan House is maxed out amid increased demand; advocates worry about homelessness swelling long-term due to pandemic fallout

A local collaborative is finalizing the process to establish a temporary homeless shelter as demand rises at existing shelters in the wake of widespread closures and layoffs, and may increase further if and when a state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hilary Shaw, left, executive director of the Abbie Shelter. Beacon file photo

Shelters Report Increased Danger Levels for Domestic Violence

The Abbie Shelter has opened its Facebook page for survivors seeking help who can’t call while home with abusers; officials expect a surge in calls after pandemic

Since Montana’s stay-at-home order took effect on March 26, it’s left most people stuck at home to work remotely or homeschool their kids. But for some people, it also leaves them trapped and isolated in a home with their abuser.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A screenshot from Whitefish Assembly’s virtual Easter egg hunt.

Churches Go Virtual for Easter

Alternative Easter egg hunts and online services helping churches stay connected to congregations during pandemic

After Easter egg hunts were canceled across the world to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, Associate Pastor John Weaver at Whitefish Assembly decided to apply his knowledge of 3D tours used in real estate to create a virtual egg hunt.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Drs. Douglas Nelson and Jeffrey Tjaden are pictured in front of Kalispell Regional Healthcare on April 2, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

On the Front Line

As local health experts stand sentry in preparation for a patient surge related to the spread of coronavirus, they’re counting on the community to flatten the curve

On a recent weekday afternoon, Dr. Jeffrey Tjaden sat at a narrow desk in a hospital waiting room, applied a liberal dose of hand sanitizer and swiveled into frame for a live on-camera question-and-answer session on Facebook. Dressed in shirtsleeves and a tie, a stethoscope slung around his neck, the infectious disease physician at Kalispell Regional Healthcare, and a member of the hospital’s newly minted COVID-19 incident command team, appeared at ease as he fielded questions from the community related to the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell on April 3, 2020. Flights have decreased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19 and Montana Governor Bullock’s request for all non-essential travelers to stop coming to Montana. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Bullock Extends Stay-at-home Order by Two Weeks to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Order also pushes K-12 school closures by two weeks, extends other emergency measures until April 24

In an ongoing effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday afternoon extended a stay-at-home order for all Montana residents until April 24, pushing his previous directive forward by two weeks while also stretching school closures and restrictions on non-essential businesses.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A woman argues with a protester over the display of an upside down U.S. flag at Kalispell City Hall on April 6, 2020. About 30 people gathered to protest part of a new ordinance put forth by the City of Kalispell. Ordinance 1840 is a state of emergency ordinance that grants the Kalispell city manager the authority to, among other things, direct law enforcement to enforce quarantines or curfews in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the city has no intent to enact a curfew at this time. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell Declares State of Local Emergency

Ordinance allowing city to access emergency funding in response to COVID-19 draws protests

The City of Kalispell declared a state of local emergency after passing an ordinance in an 8-1 vote on Monday night in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Montana National Guard began screening arriving passengers for symptoms of COVID-19 at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell on April 3, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County Reports Evidence of Community Spread

Local health officials have documented six cases of COVID-19 in which individuals had no known source of infection

Flathead City-County Health Department officials on Tuesday confirmed six cases of COVID-19 in which the individuals had no known source of infection, marking the first evidence of community spread in the area.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A sign in Whitefish on March 17. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

State Health Department Expands Mental-Health Services Amid Surge in Calls

DPHHS increases funding for early crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention hotlines

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced on April 1 an expansion of mental-health services to help Montanans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Whitefish City Hall. Beacon file photo

Whitefish Ordinance Restricts Reservations at Hotels, Short-term Rentals

Emergency rule is in response to ‘virus vacationers’ seeking refuge from coronavirus pandemic; exempts visitors on essential business

The Whitefish City Council on Sunday morning enacted an emergency ordinance prohibiting hotels and short-term rentals from accepting reservations for non-essential purposes through April 30, becoming the first city in Montana to do so and marking the municipality’s most dramatic step to date to halt the spread of coronavirus.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The EPA office in Libby. Beacon File Photo

Handoff of Libby Superfund Site Delayed by COVID-19

The federal government had originally planned to make the transfer April 1

The long-awaited handoff of a large section of the Libby Superfund site from federal to state control has been delayed by the coronavirus.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Gabe Spencer takes phone calls for orders of sanitizer. Whistling Andy Distillery and Good Stuff Botanicals joined forces in Bigfork to produce hand sanitizer under the name Top Shelf Sanitizer in response to the shortage of sanitizer after the COVID-19 outbreak, as seen on March 24, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Collaborating for Hand Sanitizer

Whistling Andy Distillery and The Good Stuff Botanicals in Bigfork have joined forces to create alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Even though Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork was forced to shut down its tasting room to customers in March as a coronavirus precaution, their phone has suddenly started ringing off the hook.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Parking spaces in downtown Whitefish along Central Avenue as seen on July 2, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Study: Whitefish Losses Total $732,000 Per Day Due to Coronavirus

Survey of local businesses estimates steep daily revenue loss, compares current figures to same time period last year

Even though local public health measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic are barely weeks old, the Whitefish business community is already losing more than $732,000 in daily revenue, according to a study released Tuesday, offering a snapshot of the downturn that local economies may have to endure for months to come.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Musician Nick Spear of Whitefish stands with a broken guitar near his home on March 26, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Creativity in a Time of Crisis

As a global pandemic halts routine life across the country and in the Flathead Valley, local artists soldier on entertaining the masses and helping their community

They had been preparing for the show for weeks when the entire world came to a screeching halt.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Collette Box, director of the Discovery Developmental Center, cleans and organizes the building on March 27, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Pandemic Upending Childcare Industry and Workforce that Depends on It

Widespread closures are disrupting families and employers; advocates worry the industry won’t recover and call for rethinking public childcare funding

In a March 11 letter to Congress, 39 organizations, including the nation’s most prominent childcare advocacy groups, requested emergency relief for the childcare industry to be included in the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus package.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Whitefish City Hall. Beacon file photo

Whitefish Asks Hotels, Short-Term Rentals to Stop Accepting Reservations

Data suggests people are seeking refuge from the pandemic in the Flathead Valley

Amid a growing concern that people from out of the area are seeking refuge from the COVID-19 pandemic in the Flathead Valley, the City of Whitefish is asking hotels, short-term rentals, and other lodging establishments to stop accepting reservations for non-essential visits through April 30.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Students trickled in and out of Glacier High School on March 18, 2020 to gather their things in anticipation of extended school closures. Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered all schools close on March 15 in response of the spread of novel coronavirus across the state. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Suspended, Not Canceled High School Sports Season Gives Some Teams Hope

Montana High School Association has nixed practices and competitions through April 13; no final decision has been made on status of season

One of the cruelest twists, Abby Connolly says, is that this has been the perfect spring for high school sports.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Flathead County Adopts All-Mail Ballot for June 2 Primary

All registered voters will receive their ballots beginning May 8, while mail-ballot registration runs through May 26

Flathead County officials on Monday adopted a resolution to hold the June 2 primary election using mail-only ballots in an effort to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Immanuel Lutheran Communities in Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

Some Local Businesses Hiring Amid Layoffs

Grocery stores, assisted-living facilities, chain restaurants among businesses in need of employees

While many businesses locally and nationwide are experiencing layoffs and reduced hours due to the COVID-19-caused closures, others are seeing increased employee demand or no changes at all.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Beacon file photo

Flathead Avalanche Center Advises Extra Caution in the Backcountry

Avalanche forecasters urge recreationists to behave responsibly to avoid extra stress on the health care system

After the chairlifts quit spinning in Montana and across the nation earlier this month in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Flathead Avalanche Center forecasters have noticed an uptick in backcountry usage locally, which could cause additional hazards.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A cyclist along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Courtesy photo

Glacier National Park Closes to Visitors Until Further Notice

Announcement comes as Montana ramps up measures to slow spread of COVID-19

Glacier National Park is closed to visitors until further notice as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Montana, which a day earlier recorded the first death of a patient stricken with coronavirus.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Visitors relax at Tally Lake. Beacon File Photo

Flathead, Kootenai National Forests Close Campsites and Rental Cabins

Closures come amid escalating public health concerns surrounding COVID-19 outbreak

Developed campgrounds, restroom facilities, rental cabins and lookouts have been closed on both Flathead and Kootenai National Forest land as U.S. Forest Service officials respond to escalating public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Gov. Steve Bullock. Beacon File Photo

Bullock Issues Stay at Home Directive to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Directive asks Montanans to stay home to maximum extent possible except for essential activities

Gov. Steve Bullock on Thursday issued a mandatory stay-at-home order for all residents of Montana while temporarily closing non-essential businesses, marking his most dramatic action to date in the ongoing effort slow the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Lincoln, Glacier Counties Report First Positive Cases of COVID-19

Health officials say COVID-19 is particularly concerning for those in Libby with asbestosis

Coronavirus is continuing to spread across the state and into more rural communities.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Data from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Graphic by Eric Dietrich of the Montana Free Press.

Unemployment Filings, Social Service Demand Skyrocketing

Workers losing jobs and income as businesses close or alter operations, while facing new challenges of caring for kids while balancing work

In the wake of sweeping measures to combat COVID-19, businesses have shuttered or altered operations across the state, leaving thousands of employees without jobs and countless others with reduced income while straining social services with increased demand.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Restaurants, bars and other eateries around Whitefish have either closed or have switched to take-out or delivery only as a measure to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus, as seen on March 17, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Hospitality Industry Reels in Wake of Emergency Public Health Closures

Even as Flathead Valley restaurants, bars and hotels offer limited services, hundreds of workers have been displaced by coronavirus outbreak

As the ramifications of the novel coronavirus unfold in the U.S. and around the globe, emergency public health closures across Montana have dealt an immediate blow to local economies, leaving thousands of workers suddenly and unexpectedly displaced.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Great Northern Bar and Grill is empty on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020. Restaurants, bars and other eateries around Whitefish have either closed or have switched to take-out or delivery only as a measure to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus, as seen on March 17, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

State Extends School, Restaurant Closures Until April 10

As of Tuesday, there were 46 positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Montana, including four in Flathead County

In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday extended the statewide closure of schools, bars, restaurants and other businesses in Montana until April 10.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Montana West Economic Development of Kalispell on Dec. 18, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Economic Development Groups Offer Business Tips Amid Pandemic

As businesses wait for a federal stimulus package, economic development agencies recommend deferring payments, reducing costs

As officials continue to impose strict orders on social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Montana’s businesses are shutting their doors and curtailing operations.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Students trickled in and out of Glacier High School on March 18, 2020 to gather their things in anticipation of extended school closures. Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered all schools close on March 15 in response of the spread of novel coronavirus across the state. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Local Schools Preparing for Next Round of Closures

Teachers, administrators planning for remote learning at all grade levels if and when governor extends statewide school closures into April and beyond

Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau paid a visit to Flathead High School last week, checking in on one of the largest buildings that the sprawling district operates.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kalispell Regional Healthcare braces for the arrival of novel coronavirus as seen on the afternoon of March 18, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Two New Cases of Coronavirus Reported in Flathead County

Montana DPHHS announced a woman in her 30s and a man in his 50s both tested positive Monday

Two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Flathead County on Monday, according to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A guard checks the rooms at the Flathead County jail. Beacon File Photo

Local Law Enforcement Alters Operations During Pandemic

Street officers were limiting their physical interactions with other people and jail visits have been temporarily suspended

Local law enforcement agencies are changing how they serve the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Images courtesy of Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

Mental Health During a Public-Health Crisis

Practitioners are offering telehealth and suggest structured activities, getting outside to cope with COVID-19 anxiety

As social distancing becomes the new norm and coronavirus-caused closures continue to rattle Montana, mental health professionals are responding to an uptick in anxiety and fear of what the uncertain future holds.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kalispell Regional Healthcare braces for the arrival of novel coronavirus as seen on the afternoon of March 18, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Officials Describe Efforts to Curb Exposure After Flathead Confirms First COVID-19 Cases

KRH employee who tested positive for coronavirus potentially exposed 14 patients and nine employees; Illinois man had “limited contact”

A Kalispell Regional Healthcare employee who tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling out of state potentially exposed 14 patients and nine employees before he was instructed to quarantine at home, officials said Saturday, while an Illinois man who tested positive for the disease after visiting Montana had limited contact with the public and is resting in isolation.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Image by Alissa Eckert, MS and Dan Higgins, MAMS

Two Men Diagnosed With Coronavirus in Flathead County

First cases of coronavirus detected in Northwest Montana; both individuals recently engaged in domestic, out-of-state travel

Two men have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Flathead County, according to a press release from the Flathead City-County Health Department.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Restaurants, bars and other eateries around Whitefish have either closed or have switched to take-out or delivery only as a measure to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus, as seen on March 17, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead Board of Health Orders Eateries, Gyms to Close Friday

Restaurants will be able to continue to provide take-out, delivery services

The Flathead City-County Health Board has voted to close all bars, restaurants and fitness centers to the public for at least 10 days in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kelly Hamilton loads bags of food into a car at the Flathead Food Bank on March 19, 2020. The Flathead Food Bank provides bags of food via curbside pickup only to reduce chances of transmission of novel coronavirus. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Food Bank Inventories Dwindling Rapidly Due to Increased Demand, Supplier Shortages

Local food bank directors are asking for community financial support to make sure food doesn’t run out for those in need

Flathead Valley food banks are placing emergency orders and asking the public to make financial contributions as food inventories dwindle rapidly due to both skyrocketing demand and people clearing shelves at grocery stores, which diminishes critical supply sources for the nonprofits.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A sign in the front window of Brendan House nursing home at Kalispell Regional Healthcare on March 13, 2020. As of March 13, Brendan House is restricting all visitors as a precautionary measure to protect residents from novel coronavirus. Hunter D’Antouno | Flathead Beacon

New Coronavirus Cases Reported in Missoula, Gallatin Counties

There have been 12 confirmed cases in Montana since last week

On Wednesday evening, Bullock announced that a man in his 50s in Missoula County and a man in his 60s in Gallatin County both tested positive for the virus, also known as COVID-19.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

Kalispell Regional Medical Center on April 15, 2019. Beacon File Photo

Local Health Care Facilities Bracing for Epidemic

Proactive community measures could help health care professionals avoid systemic overwhelm in the Flathead Valley

Even though Flathead County on Wednesday still hadn’t reported a single case of COVID-19, health care professionals are already feeling the full strain of the coronavirus pandemic as facilities grapple with limited testing capabilities and take stock of critical resources that could be exhausted with an influx of sickened patients.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Images courtesy of Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

KRH Encourages Public to Visit COVID-19 Informational Page

Detailed source is updated regularly with health care resources, advice

Subjects include numerous aspects of the virus and local preparedness efforts, with easy-to-read infographics and information.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Flathead City-County Health Department. Beacon File Photo

Flathead County Commission Declares State of Emergency Over Coronavirus

Declaration will allow health department to access additional funding during outbreak

The Flathead County Commission voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency on Wednesday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Glacier Modifies Operations Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Apgar Visitor Center will be closed until further notice starting March 21

Glacier National Park is modifying its operations in an effort to keep employees, visitors and volunteers safe.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Image by Alissa Eckert, MS and Dan Higgins, MAMS

Montana Confirms Two More Coronavirus Cases in Gallatin County

At least 10 people have tested positive in the state

Gov. Steve Bullock confirmed two additional positive coronavirus cases in Gallatin County on Wednesday morning, bringing the total to 10.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

U.S., Canada to Close Border to Nonessential Travel

Truck drivers and Canadian snowbirds, who live in the U.S. for part of the year and are returning to Canada, are among those expected to get an exemption

The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock addresses a crowd of reporters and students at Helena High School, his alma mater, after announcing his presidential run on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. He is the 22nd Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

State Extends Unemployment Benefits to Workers Impacted by Coronavirus

People without health insurance will still be able to get tested for coronavirus

Montanans furloughed or laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak will be able to apply for unemployment benefits, Gov. Steve Bullock announced Tuesday.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Rankin Elementary School. Beacon File Photo

School Districts, Food Banks Adjust to Ensure Access to Food

Food banks switching to outside distributions among other changes; schools serving meals to kids at designated locations

School districts and food banks are making adjustments in order to ensure that students and customers are able to continue accessing food while adhering to social-distancing protocol.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area outside of Lakeside on Jan. 8, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area Closes Amid Outbreak

Whitefish Mountain closed for season on Sunday

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area in Lakeside announced Tuesday that it was temporarily suspending all operations amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Shoppers check-out at Safeway in Whitefish on March 15, 2020. Flathead Valley residents stockpiled food, face-masks, cleaning supplies and paper products over the weekend as covid-19 spreads across the United States. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County Urges Businesses to Alter Services During Coronavirus Outbreak

As of Tuesday there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Flathead County

Although there have been no known local cases of COVID-19 in Northwest Montana, Flathead County officials are urging businesses “to begin immediate preparations for alternative ways of performing day-to-day activities.”

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Nurses work in the intermediate care unit at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Beacon File Photo

KRH Offers Free Virtual Appointments Until March 24

Hospital launches online service to address pandemic public health emergency

In light of the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) is offering no-cost virtual health visits to provide support for those experiencing flu-like symptoms including fevers, dry coughs and fatigue.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Flathead City-County Health Department. Beacon File Photo

Flathead Health Officer to Ask Commissioners for Emergency Declaration

Health officer said county has not considered forcing bars, restaurants to close

The public health official leading the local response to the coronavirus pandemic will ask the Flathead County Commission to declare a state of emergency this week.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Bullock on COVID-19 Outbreak: ‘The Time to Act is Now’

As of Monday afternoon, there were still only six presumptive cases of coronavirus in the state

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Monday that while the statewide measures to slow the spread of coronavirus may seem extreme, he believes they are necessary to save lives from the infection that has rapidly spread around the globe.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Allyssa Cadwalader swings at a pitch during the crosstown softball game on April 16, 2019. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Spring Sports, Activities Suspended Indefinitely

MHSA will “reevaluate” season on April 13; spring sports practices began on March 9

The Montana High School Association announced on March 16 that it’s suspending all spring sports and activities through at least April 13 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Glacier High School. Beacon File Photo

Bullock Directs Schools to Close for Two Weeks as Coronavirus Spreads

State also recommends that all gatherings with more than 50 people be canceled

Schools across Montana will be closed for two weeks, from March 16-27, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the virus that has spread around the globe and dramatically altered American life in just a matter of days.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Whitefish Mountain Resort announced closure of the ski hill in light of coronavirus on March 15, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Whitefish Mountain Resort to Close for Season

As COVID-19 virus spreads, officials decide to close ski resort three weeks early

Whitefish Mountain Resort has closed for the season as fear of the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the nation.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Browning team huddles before the start of the game against Libby during the Northwest Class A district tournament in Whitefish on Feb. 15, 2019. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

State Basketball Tournaments Canceled After Coronavirus Cases Confirmed

Tournaments at four sites held games on Thursday and Friday; finalists will be declared co-champions

The Montana High School Association canceled the remainder of the Class AA, A, B and C state basketball tournaments late Friday night, hours after the state confirmed its first four cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Bredan House nursing home at Kalispell Regional Healthcare on March 13, 2020. As of March 13, Brendan House is restricting all visitors as a precautionary measure to protect residents from novel coronavirus. Hunter D’Antuno | Flathead Beacon

Assisted-Living, Nursing Facilities Implement Coronavirus Measures

KRH also announces expansion of visitor restrictions at KRMC, The HealthCenter and North Valley Hospital

Senior-care institutions in the Flathead Valley have implemented measures — including restricting visitors — to protect elderly residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A sign in the front window of Brendan House nursing home at Kalispell Regional Healthcare on March 13, 2020. As of March 13, Brendan House is restricting all visitors as a precautionary measure to protect residents from novel coronavirus. Hunter D’Antuno | Flathead Beacon

Two People Test Positive for Coronavirus in Missoula County

At least six people in Montana have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours

Two people in Missoula County were believed to have tested positive for coronavirus, Gov. Steve Bullock announced on March 14.

READ MORE

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Gov. Steve Bullock. Beacon File Photo

Montana Confirms First Coronavirus Cases

Gov. Bullock on March 13 confirmed four presumptively positive coronavirus cases in Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Lewis and Clark counties

Gov. Steve Bullock on March 13 said Montana’s public health department has confirmed the first positive cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, documented so far in the state.

According to a press release from Bullock’s office, there were four presumptively positive cases in the counties of Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Lewis and Clark.

READ MORE

 

If you enjoy stories like this one, please consider joining the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club. For as little as $5 per month, Editor’s Club members support independent local journalism and earn a pipeline to Beacon journalists. Members also gain access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, where they will find exclusive content like deep dives into our biggest stories and a behind-the-scenes look at our newsroom.