Covid-19 Live Updates: Outbreaks in the Mountain West Show Danger Posed to Rural

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Credit…Tailyr Irvine for The New York Times

The Mountain West, which for months avoided the worst of the pandemic, has rapidly devolved into one of the most alarming hot spots in the United States, which recorded its eight millionth confirmed case on Thursday.

Seventeen states, including many in the Mountain West, have added more cases in the past week than any other week of the pandemic. And the spread through sparsely populated areas of rural America has created problems in small towns that lack critical resources — including doctors — even in ordinary times.

Wyoming, which did not have 1,000 total cases until June, recently added more than 1,000 in a single week. Reports of new infections have recently reached record levels in Alaska, Colorado and Idaho. And Montana, where more than half of the state’s cases have been announced since August, is averaging more than 500 cases per day.

One place where the infections have spread has been local jails, which are confined, often crowded spaces. They are risky venues for inmates and workers, but the short-term holding facilities also pose a threat for surrounding communities because people filter in and out of them constantly.

For months, the jail in central Montana’s Cascade County was free of the coronavirus, which seemed as distant a threat as it did in much of the rural Mountain West.

Then a few people who had the virus were arrested. By the time Paul Krogue, the jail’s medical director, realized there was a problem, nearly 50 inmates were infected. After weeks battling to contain the outbreak, Mr. Krogue got a call that infections were spreading to a side of the jail that had been virus-free.

“I just kind of lost it, like, ‘My God, I don’t know how much longer I can do this,’” Mr. Krogue, a nurse practitioner, recalled. “I was just scared that I’m not going to be able to see it through, that I’m going to get sick — you just feel so exhausted and it’s just a lot.”

Now more than 300 inmates and staff members have been infected in a facility meant to hold 365 people, Cascade County’s first major outbreak in a region where the virus is suddenly surging.

Credit…Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Pfizer’s chief executive said on Friday that the company would not apply for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine before the third week of November, ruling out President Trump’s assertion that a vaccine would be ready before Election Day on Nov. 3.

In a statement posted to the company website, the chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, said that although Pfizer could have preliminary numbers by the end of October about whether the vaccine works, it would still need to collect safety and manufacturing data that would stretch the timeline to at least the third…



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