Montana versus Nova Scotia COVID Update


Posted on August 6, 2020

Summary of Situation on July 23

On July 23, I posted a comparison between these two jurisdictions having roughly the same population but with Montana being less susceptible to the spread of COVID due to less population density and the lack of an international airport. This advantage was borne out until late May with each having few or no cases per day and Montana having less than half the total cases and  and one third the deaths on May 24 – 1049 and 58 respectively versus 471 and  16 in Montana.

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As outlined in my previous post,(1)COVID: Lessons from Nova Scotia and Montana Experience his situation reversed itself from then on as as result of an incautious reopening by Montana in late April(2)Note that the effect of loosening restrictions will take several weeks to manifest itself as compared to Nova Scotia’s much more gradual reopening starting one month later.

What has happened since July 23?

Did Nova Scotia’s reopening lead to a similar rise in cases there?

So far, the answer is no. Since July 24, Nova Scotia has experienced a total of 4 new cases and no deaths. All but one of the new cases were returning travelers who were already isolated when diagnosed – all evidence that the monitoring system is working.

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Meanwhile in Montana

The rise in cases in Montana remains unabated – 1847 new cases and 27 deaths since July 24. So now Montana has experienced more deaths than Nova Scotia and more than four times as many deaths.

What measures have been taken in Montana?

On July 15, the use of masks was mandated in ” enclosed public spaces in counties that currently have three or more active cases”(3)Montana governor issues mask mandate for 25 counties

Are they adequate?

It is probably to soon to say as the action was taken just over three weeks ago but the fact that there is no sign of abatement yet is not promising.

Note that the limited nature  of the mandate means that people from counties with high infection rates can easily spread the disease to less infected areas. As well, the lack of  limitations on travel from other states makes control difficult if not impossible – a huge factor in other US States as well.(4)For an indication of the magnitude of the problem, see Travel Watch: COVID-19 Is Spreading Along Interstate Highways, Per New Research, Forbes website, July 2, 2020

By contrast, Nova Scotia, even though new cases are almost non existent continuous to have more rigorous restrictions. In particular:

  • Travel from outside the province is still restricted with only travelers from a “bubble of 3 neighbouring provinces with virtually no active cases allowed to enter without the requirement to self isolate
  • Masks have been mandated in all public indoor spaces throughout the entire province. This is likely a preparation to open up more to travelers from other areas with low daily case rates.

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