Go to Yellowstone Public Radio or Montana Public Radio for a transcript of the episode.

After covid-19 arrived in Park County, Montana, the native well being officer, Dr. Laurel Desnick, grew to become the face of pandemic measures and the main focus of consideration as by no means earlier than. She’s been whispered about on the grocery retailer, yelled at on her approach house, and known as a tyrant.

She and different public well being staff say they really feel that they’re dwelling in a fishbowl and that all the pieces they are saying will likely be scrutinized. “It nearly form of feels such as you’re being watched,” Desnick stated. “It’s not an excellent feeling.”

Her work as soon as felt easy: to make research-based suggestions backed by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and different medical consultants. However the course of has change into skewed in public debates with individuals who don’t belief these baselines, she stated. Public well being staff throughout Montana have stated they now uncomfortably settle for that the proper pandemic endgame isn’t going to occur. 

“I can’t make anyone do something,” stated Sue Good, the highest well being official in McCone County, Montana. “Everyone is aware of what covid is. … In the event that they select to not observe the suggestions and the steering, that’s their downside. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it anymore.”

KHN Montana correspondent Katheryn Houghton spoke with these and different public well being staff who stated they’re uninterested in selecting fights they really feel they will’t win. Montana Free Press reporter Alex Sakariassen dove into how that battle has performed out in a single rural — and fiercely impartial — county within the southwestern nook of the state.

In Episode 4 of “Shared State,” the journalists discover how within the period of covid debates about public well being, private liberties, and science have reached a fever pitch. These disagreements are tugging at tightknit cities and counties, making some residents surprise how their communities will survive.

“Shared State” is a co-production of Montana Free Press, Yellowstone Public Radio, and Montana Public Radio. This season shares tales about Montanans working via political quagmires.

Go to Yellowstone Public Radio or Montana Public Radio for a transcript of episode 4.

Katheryn Houghton: khou[email protected], @K_Hought