Tourists Have 'Meaningful Impact' On Case Counts In Montana Counties Bordering Parks

Tourists Have 'Meaningful Impact' On Case Counts In Montana Counties Bordering Parks

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative. Tourism to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks is humming along this summer despite the pandemic, but it appears that out-of-staters are bringing more than just their money with them. Nonresidents make up at least 20% of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in two Montana counties bordering those parks, according to the latest data from the state's health department. Both Gallatin and Flathead counties had a combined 80 nonresidents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The news comes as Yellowstone announced last week that two concession workers and three visitors had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Tourism has a "meaningful impact" on the case load in the two Montana counties, according to Jim Murphy, a communicable disease specialist at the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. "These folks come to Montana because we are a tourist destination and they can leave the infection here," Murphy said. "Some may have acquired the infection here as well." Murphy says some of the cases also stem from people visiting family who live near the parks. Montana is one of only a handful of states to publicly track nonresident cases. That's because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require nonresidents who contract COVID-19 be added to the total of their own home state, not the one they were visiting. In a June press conference announcing the tracking of nonresident cases, Gov. Steve Bullock said it was important for Montanans to know how big ...
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