It typically takes years of persuasion to change habits in the name of health safety. Local officials who are stuck with the responsibility of enforcing statewide pandemic-related mandates are trying to transform behavior fast.
Montana is seeking penalties against some businesses that violated its mask and social distancing directives, after months of reluctance to enforce COVID restrictions. Meanwhile, cities, counties and tribal nations still struggle to get people to mask up and avoid crowds.
As the pandemic continues to cast shadows on everyday life, some candidates for governor are talking about everything except the specifics of how they would manage COVID-19 into the future.
When in public, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence join crowded rallies where many do not wear masks. Behind the scenes, the White House is recommending states adopt mask mandates and even fines — leaving it up to local officials to handle the consequences.
As fires burn longer and closer to cities throughout the West, researchers are trying to understand the lasting health impacts by studying a Montana town previously smothered by wildfire smoke.
As people leave COVID-stricken cities to settle semi-permanently in vacation communities, locals assess how these new residents are changing demands on medical services.
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes initially opposed the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede this year, worrying about hundreds of people coming to their reservation for the rodeo amid coronavirus concerns. But the annual event was on private land and went ahead, highlighting the reopening tensions between resuming normal economic activities and protecting the vulnerable.