From a day-to-day decision making standpoint, which number matters more- the total number of COVID-19 cases we've had here in Montana, or the total number of active cases?

What is the number that we always seem to hear emphasized in many of the news reports when discussing COVID-19 in Montana? It is the total number of cases. As of Monday, May 4th, the state website shows a total of 455 COVID-19 cases in Montana. But of those, 404 cases have already recovered. So, as of very early Monday morning, the state of Montana only showed 35 active cases. Which number should make the headlines? 455? Or 35? Does it matter?

(Check out the state COVID-19 website for the updated numbers by clicking here.)

I spoke with Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R-Stevensville) late last week. He told me that, thanks to his urging, the State of Montana is now prominently displaying the number of active cases and those who have recovered COVID19, instead of simply featuring the total number of cases.

Here is a map showing the active cases as of early Monday morning:




Why is this important? If Montanans are constantly being told that there are hundreds of COVID-19 cases in the state, then the governor may continue with the unnecessary shutdown of mom and pop businesses across Montana. On the contrary, if Montanans are reminded of how low our actual COVID-19 cases are in the state, it makes it harder for the governor to justify unnecessary business closures- especially when we learn that Montana is suffering job losses worse than the national average.

We also learned that at least one of the active COVID-19 cases involves someone who hasn't even been in Montana. As KTVQ-TV reports:

Fergus County Disaster & Emergency Services said in a Facebook post: "This individual is a resident of Fergus County who has been out of State for an extended period and acquired the disease out of State and has not returned to Montana. This individual will recover out of state before returning home."


By the way, Sen. Thomas will be on the Montana Talks statewide radio show with Aaron Flint on Tuesday a little after 9 a.m. on the following stations.

  • Billings: Newstalk 95.5 and 95.1 FM, 970 AM KBUL
  • Bozeman: 1450 AM KMMS
  • Livingston: 1340 AM KPRK
  • Missoula: 930 AM and 99.7 FM KMPT
  • Kalispell: 880 AM and 107.9 FM KJJR
  • Glendive: 1400 AM KXGN and 103.1 FM
  • Forsyth: 1250 AM KIKC and 94.5 FM
  • Lewistown: 1230 AM KXLO and 106.9 FM
  • Wolf Point: 92.7 FM KVCK
  • Fort Peck: 107.1 FM KVCK Translator
  • Shelby: 1150 AM KSEN
  • Great Falls: 102.7 FM KINX
  • Helena: 95.9 FM KCAP
  • Butte: 1370 AM and 94.7 FM KXTL
  • Scobey: 95.7 FM KCGM
  • Malta: 100.1 FM KMMR
  • Plentywood: 100.1 FM KATQ

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