Montana to spend $530K in coronavirus relief money on Census

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana is spending $530,000 in coronavirus relief money to boost Census outreach efforts with two months left in the once-a-decade population count.

The U.S. Census Bureau is ending its counting efforts on Sept. 30, a month earlier than the extension that was announced this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bureau said Tuesday.

The state is partnering with the Montana Nonprofit Association, Western Native Voice and Forward Montana to help contact people who have not already responded to the census, officials said. The state’s 56% self-response rate is behind the national average.

An accurate count could help Montana gain a second U.S. House seat and affects the amount of federal funding the state receives.

Montana reported another 115 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to just over 4,400. Sixty-six people have died, including a Richland County woman in her 80s and a Yellowstone County man in his 60s, officials said. Seventy-nine people are hospitalized.

There’s an outbreak of six cases of COVID-19 in connection with a long-term care facility in the Cascade County, the county’s health department reported Tuesday. The agency cited medical privacy laws in not naming the facility.

In Carbon County, health officials are ordering face masks be worn in public even if the number of people considered infected in the county falls below four — the threshold at which the governor’s mask mandate kicks in. County officials say its unrealistic for businesses to follow active case rates daily to determine whether their customers should be wearing masks.