UPDATE July 4, 2020 @11:26 PM: In a post from his campaign Facebook page, Matt Rosendale, current State Auditor and GOP candidate for Montana's seat in the House of Representatives being vacated by Gianforte, has announced that he and his wife Jean were also in attendance at the campaign event. Both Rosendale and his wife have self-quarantined, gotten tested, and are awaiting their test results. Neither are currently experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus. Rosendale has suspended in-person campaign events for 14 days as he quarantines.
BIG SKY, Mont. - Republican Congressman and Montana gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte - along with his running mate Kristen Juras - is suspending public events after possible exposure to COVID-19 by a member of President Donald Trump's inner circle. The news is concerning for some members of the Big Sky community, where the exposure might have happened.
On Friday night, the Trump campaign confirmed to The New York Times that Kimberley Guilfoyle, a top fundraising official for President Trump and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota ahead of Trump’s campaign rally at Mount Rushmore.
The news comes just days after Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. traveled to the Treasure State to attend a fundraising event for President Trump with Congressman Greg Gianforte's wife Susan and his running mate Kristen Juntas.
Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. arrived in the Big Sky area on Tuesday for the campaign event and stayed until Thursday. It's not clear how much contact they - or Gianforte and his team - had with the public.
But even still, the news was a cause of concern for members of the Big Sky community that we spoke with on Saturday.
"That is frustrating because they were just in our community and she was positive," said Big Sky resident Caitlin Pabst.
Big Sky has seen clusters of cases in the past few months, though the county hasn't released data on how many cases are currently in the community.
Both women say they've seen the community's concern about the coronavirus and add many residents have been supportive of mask policies and social distancing.
"Most people are supportive of wearing them or of at least kind of maintaining social distancing if they don't have them," said Big Sky resident Megan Hartman. "Our community is definitely encouraging people to wear the mask."
In a picture posted to social media, running mate Kristen Juras and Gianforte’s wife Susan can be seen posing closely with Guilfoyle and Trump Jr; none are wearing masks.
"As a politician and as a leader, you have a responsibility to use a platform to lead and to set an example," Pabst said in response to the photo. "And I just hope that's what they're going to do now that they know that she tested positive."
"I think everyone has the right to do what they will," said Hartman, "But I personally like to wear the mask, I personally keep in mind the safety of others and myself. So I think if someone else wants to put themselves at risk that's their choice, but I personally don't agree with it."
Guilfoyle is the latest member of Trump's re-election team or inner circle to test positive for the coronavirus as the president hits the campaign trail across the country. Guilfoyle was apparently asymptomatic and Trump Jr. has so far tested negative for the virus.
We reached out to a spokesperson from the Gianforte campaign, who confirmed the three would be quarantining and getting tested: “Since learning of their potential exposure, Greg, Susan, and Kristen have adhered to recommended guidelines. Out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of others, they will self-quarantine, be tested for COVID-19, and suspend in-person campaign events pending test results.”