It was a case of bad news and good news on Tuesday as Governor Steve Bullock held another press conference from Helena that featured state health officials with some alarming statistics.

State Medical Officer Greg Holzman pointed out the rapidly growing numbers of COVID 19 in the state.

“Last week showed a remarkable increase in cases,” said Holzman. “So we actually had an increase of 490 cases last week over the week prior, which brought us to 1200 and 49 cases last week alone, so an all time high. With that increase, we wanted to kind of look at it a little bit closer and when you look at what counties had increases, 19 of 56 counties in Montana had an increase in cases. Six of them had what we would consider significant increases in cases, in that those six had 75% of that almost 500 increase, and those include Deer Lodge County, Rosebud in the Northern Cheyenne, Flathead County, Roosevelt, Fort Peck area, Missoula and Yellowstone counties. The increases in all of these areas were significant.”

After the bad news of increasing COVID cases, Governor Bullock got to deliver the good news that Montana’s unemployment rate has fallen significantly.

“As we announced last week, Montana's August unemployment rate is at 5.6% , well below the national average and the seventh lowest rate in the nation,” said Bullock.” Montana continues to outperform the national economy and many other states in recovery from the pandemic.”

With that, Bullock said Montana’s economy can only stay strong when Montanans do what they can to stay healthy and keep the virus from spreading further.

“A healthy economy is truly reliant on a healthy population,” he said. “And a healthy population relies on masking up, avoiding large crowds, staying home when you’re sick and following quarantine orders from your local health department. Ignoring public health best practices isn't some sort of act of resistance. All it does is harm our small businesses and put us further from our goals of minimizing the harm of this virus.”

During the question and answer session with the media Bullock said he would not institute  the levying of fines for those who refuse to wear a mask.

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