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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Gianforte says mandates aren't needed to respond to the Omicron variant

Gov. Greg Gianforte stands outside St. James Health in Butte, MT, Thursday, Oct. 21, to announce a new monoclonal antibody treatment clinic. Hospital staff say the treatment can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, but it is not a solution or cure to COVID-19 and continue to encourage Montanans to get vaccinated.
Corin Cates-Carney
/
Montana Public Radio
Gov. Greg Gianforte stands outside St. James Health in Butte, MT, Thursday, Oct. 21, to announce a new monoclonal antibody treatment clinic. Hospital staff say the treatment can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, but it is not a solution or cure to COVID-19 and continue to encourage Montanans to get vaccinated.

Gov. Greg Gianforte said Tuesday the state can continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic without government mandates. He acknowledged the omicron variant is likely to drive up cases in Montana.

Gianforte says that although the COVID-19 virus is still present, the state is in a better position than it was a year ago. That’s because vaccines and treatments are now available, he says.

“And because of the tools available to Montanans, and our success with putting them to use, I firmly believe the state does not need to have, to exercise emergency powers.”

The omicron variant has pushed governors in states including Delaware, New York and Oregon to declare or extend states of emergency, which allows them to use emergency powers. This variant is more transmissible than previous strains.

Slightly more than half of the state’s eligible population is vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccines are the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19, however breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.