The Mountain West News Bureau

Left to right: Matt Frank, Digital Editor (Missoula, MT); Rae Bichell, Reporter (Greeley, CO); Nate Hegyi, Reporter (Salt Lake City, UT); Kate Concannon, Managing Editor (Seattle, WA); Noah Glick, Reporter (Reno, NV); Ali Budner, Reporter (Colorado Springs, CO); Maggie Mullen, Reporter (Laramie, WY) and Amanda Peacher, Reporter (Boise, ID).
Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC

The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico with support from affiliate stations across the region.

 

From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we’ll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Fake news and misinformation about the pandemic run rampant these days. One of the culprits is the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns more than a dozen popular television stations across the Mountain West.

 

Jacob W. Frank / NPS

Three visitors and two concessions employees at Yellowstone National Park have tested positive for COVID-19, the park reported on Tuesday.

"Some of these visitor cases had symptoms prior to entering the park," Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. "If you have symptoms as your visit is approaching, do the responsible thing and don't come to the park. You end up putting our employees, health care providers, and other visitors at risk."

 

Shutterstock

Meatpacking plants across the Mountain West and the country are under intense scrutiny as they continue to face COVID-19 outbreaks.


Shutterstock

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A physician based in Missoula, Mont., has a message for libertarian-minded skeptics of the pandemic – cowboy up and mask up.

 

Utah Department of Corrections

Tami Peay's husband is incarcerated in a Utah state prison for an illegal drugs conviction, and she hasn't seen him in more than four months. She used to see him at least once a week. But that was before visitations were nixed due to COVID-19.

Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is expected to prompt many states to use mail-in ballots this November. Voting by mail is already common in the Mountain West, though President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim it leads to rampant fraud.


Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Nationally, the domestic abuse hotline has seen an uptick in calls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and that trend is reflected across the Mountain West.

In Idaho, for example, the Women and Children's Alliance saw a 194% increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline in April, according to the group's communications director, Chris Davis.

Tierra Mallorca / Unsplash

The economy may be on life support due to COVID-19, but housing sales across the nation soared in June, according to a report released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors. It found that housing sales jumped about 20% nationwide compared to sales in May – the largest single-month recovery since the organization began collecting data. 

The U.S. Census is underway, and many communities of color across the nation are vulnerable to being undercounted this year.

According to a new analysis from Headwaters Economics, more than 700,000 people of color are at risk of being undercounted in the Mountain West alone.

Bureau of Land Management

The president’s controversial nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management is facing renewed pushback from Western lawmakers.


A large group of outbreak specialists say there’s been a problematic silencing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during this pandemic. 

Russell Tate / United Nations COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 cases are still increasing around the Mountain West, and wait times to get test results are getting longer for many.


Bob Keating / CBC

This story is part of a collaboration between the Mountain West News Bureau and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Read about how a U.S. border town is responding to the shutdown here.

Paul Samycia started his fly fishing company two decades ago and has grown it into the largest in Fernie, British Columbia. But these days, Samycia's Elk River Guiding Company is adrift. 

Traditionally more than two-thirds of the company's clients are Americans, and with the border closed, Samycia says the season is almost a write-off.

Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

This is part of a collaboration between the Mountain West News Bureau and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation looking at how U.S.-Canada border towns are fairing during the pandemic. Read the second part here.

The U.S.-Canada border crossing north of Eureka, Mont., is quiet these days. No buses or vans packed with mountain bikes and vacationing families. Just a single logging truck. 

"No traffic hardly at all," says David Clarke, owner of the First & Last Chance Bar and Duty Free Store.


The first time Mark Ritchie and Leah Hardy laid eyes on their new camper, it was after they'd bought it.

"It was like, 'Oh my God, it's tiny.' Which was great," Ritchie said recently while standing outside their home in Laramie, Wyo. "It made me feel actually more confident dragging it around. Because when I see people with giant trailers, I go, 'Thank God that's not me.'"

St. Luke's Hospital
St. Luke's

The move came without much warning. 

“We were stunned,” Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho State epidemiologist, told the radio show Idaho Matters


Sean Pyle / Flickr

The coronavirus pandemic has forced small businesses to deal with a lot of challenges they don’t normally confront.

“We have dealt with everything from HR issues, what to do when there are employee furloughs that are required, how to navigate different loan assistance programs, says Tara Malek, with the Idaho law firm Smith + Malek. “We’ve even talked to folks about contracting issues that they have with vendors. How do they negotiate or deal with vendors if there’s no revenue coming in to business?” 

Virginia National Guard

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Some communities in the Mountain West are again facing testing delays and shortages as the number of COVID-19 cases reach record highs across the country. 


How can congregations safely congregate, if at all?

Places of worship all across the country have been wrestling with the question since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Colby K. Neal / BLM

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Lots of wildfire smoke in the summer can lead to more flu outbreaks in the winter, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International

White House

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Nearly two-thirds of residents in the Mountain West believe Trump isn't doing a good job handling the pandemic, according to a survey from researchers at Harvard, Rutgers, Northeastern and Northwestern universities released Tuesday.

 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a federal judge’s 2018 decision to keep Yellowstone grizzly bears under Endangered Species Act protections. 

Fusion Medical Animation / Unsplash

There’s significant evidence that the novel coronavirus can spread through tiny particles that linger in the air. Thanks to a University of Colorado chemistry professor, now there’s a free tool to measure those risks.

National Cancer Institute / Unsplash


Dr. Bret Frey is an emergency room physician in Reno, Nevada, and he likens working in health care right now to fighting in a war. 

"I always thought that there was a good chance that World War III would happen in some form in my lifetime, I just didn't appreciate it was going to come in the form of a virus," Frey says.

City and County of Denver / Twitter

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

With protesters taking to the streets nationwide to demand justice for George Floyd and confront police brutality and systemic racism, Mountain West News Bureau reporters are gathering perspectives of people of color from around the region.

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