Active COVID cases put Dawson County under mask mandate

Hunter Herbaugh
Sunday, August 2, 2020
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A fifth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Dawson County Friday by the local health department putting the county under the state’s mandate requiring masks in public places in all Montana counties with four or more active COVID cases. The mandate was immediately implemented.

Dawson County reported its fourth active case Thursday, however the Dawson County Health Department did not implement the state’s mask mandate right away. Department officials explained that because one of the active cases is currently isolating in another county, the mandate was not implemented at that time.

Health department director Timber Dempewolf noted that the implementation of the mask mandate is left to each county. With one Dawson case isolating in another county, Dempewolf explained that provided a bit of a technicality that placed Dawson under the limit for requiring masks in public spaces prior to the confirmation of the fifth case.

On July 15, Governor Steve Bullock issued a directive requiring face coverings in certain indoor spaces and for certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or more active cases of COVID-19 to slow the spread of the virus in Montana. He issued the directive to require businesses, government offices and other indoor spaces open to the public to ensure that employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and other members of the public wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose while remaining inside these spaces. The directive also requires face coverings at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, where social distancing is not possible or is not observed.

Under the directive, businesses, government offices and other publicly operating spaces will provide face coverings for employees and volunteers, and post signs stating that face coverings are required for people 5 and older. Businesses, other indoor spaces open to the public and sponsors of organized outdoor activities may also deny entry, refuse service or ask any person to leave if they refuse to wear a face covering. If necessary, they may rely on peace officers to enforce the state’s trespassing laws if a person refuses to wear a face covering and refuses to leave the premises.

Dempewolf added that the best way to stay up to date on COVID-19 information in Dawson County is to check the state’s website, www.

The directive is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public and when around people outside one’s household. Additionally, the CDC released a study last week concluding that “mandating the use of face coverings” in a salon in Missouri likely mitigated the spread of COVID-19 and recommended consideration of broader policies requiring face coverings. In the last month, Montana’s active cases of COVID-19 have risen from 55 to more than 1,400.

To read the official directive, frequently asked questions or to print mask posters for your business, please visit the Dawson County Health Department’s website at or Reach Hunter Herbaugh

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at

COVID-19 Cases

Following are positive COVID-19 cases as they were announced by the Dawson County Health Department since Wednesday:

• Case 13 - A female under the age of 18 who is not hospitalized and is under isolation.

• Case 14 - A female in her 20s who is not hospitalized and is under isolation.

• Case 15 - A female in her 50s who is not hospitalized and is under isolation.