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Health officer says masking still important after Montana governor lifts statewide mask order

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Posted at 4:51 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:45:31-05

Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton is urging people to continue to make “good decisions” as Montana moves closer to lifting its mask mandate. Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday that he will let the mask mandate for the state expire on Friday.

“I think we are in a good place right now. We have seen our case counts come way down,” Felton said after Gianforte's announcement.

However, Felton says people still need to be careful and that Covid-19 is still prevalent in the county.

“Particularly where people are in areas where they are compressed with a lot of others, masking is still going to be important,” he says.

Related: CDC study: 2 masks and tighter fit could reduce COVID-19 spread

Technically, under Montana law, Felton could still order stricter health orders in the county than what are mandated for the state, but it doesn’t appear that he would do that at this point.

“We as individuals are going to make that decision and businesses can choose to make that decision as well,” Felton said.

Felton said that there is still ample evidence that the Covid-19 virus is prevalent in Yellowstone County with about 25 infections per 100,000 people, which is still right on the verge of being considered high.

“The disease is still circulating. We are pleased to see the lesser number of cases and the lower positivity rate—but that’s not the same as saying we don’t have the disease circulating in our community because we do,” Felton said.

So far only about 5,000 to 6,000 people in tier IB have received the vaccine in Yellowstone County. Tier 1B includes people above 70, younger people with certain underlying conditions, American Indians and other minority groups.

Watch the full interview with Felton below:

Felton warns caution as Gianforte lifts Montana mask mandate