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Short-term vacation rental bookings are surging across the Mountain West, even as the region grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases.

 


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A surge of out-of-staters are fleeing major cities and purchasing homes in Montana, Wyoming and other parts of the Mountain West, according to real estate agents.

 

"These out-of-state buyers are just coming in droves," said D.J. Smith, president of the Missoula Organization of Realtors. 

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This Friday is Juneteenth, a national holiday in most states celebrating the end of slavery. There are planned protests around the Mountain West to keep attention on racial injustice and police brutality, including one on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. 

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There's growing concern about violence at anti-racism protests after an armed man shot a protester at a demonstration on Monday in Albuquerque, with a number of activists across the Mountain West saying they have been harassed.

PMJA, Public Media Journalists Association, has named Kate Concannon it’s 2020 Editor of the Year. PMJA is a leading industry group for public media journalism.

Concannon has led the Mountain West News Bureau as its Managing Editor since its launch in 2018. This regional journalism collaboration is made up of reporters at different public radio stations across several Western states. The bureau’s journalism is shared daily with the station partners and affiliates across the region. The bureau was launched with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

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

Justin and his buddies look like they're from a special ops team – they're wearing flak jackets and carrying assault weapons. But they aren't military and they aren't police. 

"I see myself as a concerned citizen who happens to be armed," he says.

 


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A number of county commissioners have been challenging the constitutionality of statewide stay-at-home orders in recent weeks. The latest opposition comes from North Idaho. 

The Bonner County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a proclamation calling Idaho's second phase of stay-at-home orders "unconstitutional."

 


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Some rural communities in the Mountain West are reopening without the widespread testing and contact tracing needed to identify and isolate outbreaks of COVID-19. Absent federal dollars, local fundraising can help.

 


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If you want a hearty breakfast in the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana, Minnie's Montana Cafe has you covered.

 


Nearly half of all counties in the Mountain West have largely been spared from COVID-19, according to recent data from the nonprofit organization USAFacts. Many of these communities weren't untouched, but all have had fewer than five confirmed cases of the virus. 


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It's Cinco de Mayo in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a downtown pub is giving away free meals to families in need. Not many people are out. A few are wearing masks. Outside the pub, a teenager is playing the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on his violin.

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For the past 140 years, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have both called the Wind River Valley home.

They didn't choose to share this reservation - and it's no secret that the two tribal governments don't always agree. But since the start of the pandemic, they've been on the same page about one thing.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.


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

It's a sunny, spring afternoon and Holly Spriggs and her teenage son, Sawyer Michaud, are digging around in her giant garden outside of Lander, Wyo.

"We're working on planting some potatoes and onions before we get some moisture here," she says. 

Spriggs is having a great time, but Sawyer would rather be snowmobiling.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Hoan Nguyen lives in Salt Lake City and he's concerned his wife may be immunocompromised, making her more vulnerable to COVID-19. So Nguyen and his family have taken self-isolation very seriously.

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

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

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Americans have faced world wars, economic recessions, and even other pandemics. Some people have lived through all three. I sought out senior citizens to see how the COVID-19 pandemic compares to other crises – and what we might be able to learn from them.


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On a recent rainy day in Rockville, Utah, cars roared down the highway as Dutch cyclists Marica van der Meer and Bas Baan huddled together underneath the awning of a post office, trying to fix a flat tire.

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Sitting at his desk within the small office of the Sandpoint Reader, a weekly newspaper in northern Idaho, publisher Ben Olson is exhausted.