Montana Public Radio

Aaron Bolton

Flathead Reporter

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter. He joined us in 2019 from Alaska where he reported on commercial fisheries and rural issues. 

A staffer at a Flathead County vaccine clinic fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Efforts to vaccinate the roughly 1,000 people in Montana experiencing homelessness against COVID-19 have been ramping up since the state opened up eligibility earlier this month. The recent pause on use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has complicated those efforts.

Restaurant window in Missoula, MT with a sign saying 'open for distant dining or delivery.'
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Missoula County’s Board of Health converted many of its COVID-19 rules for bars, restaurants and gyms to recommendations Thursday. The county’s mask mandate will remain in effect, but with some changes.

COVID vaccine record card
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Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed an executive order Tuesday banning the use of COVID-19 vaccine requirements by government agencies or private businesses. But the order could be on legally shaky ground when it comes to the private sector.

New York National Guard/Public Domain

State and local health officials in Montana are following a recommended pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The change is causing some logistical issues.

Moderna COVID vaccine in a small bottle
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Cascade County health officials are winding down their mass COVID-19 vaccination events. The county is shifting to a more targeted vaccination strategy with hopes of getting more doses in the arms of young people in order to reach herd immunity.

A syringe in a COVID-19 vaccine bottle.
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COVID-19 cases continued to fall last month in Yellowstone County. County health officials say the numbers are trending in the right direction as vaccines become more available.

According to health officials, nearly 470 Yellowstone County residents tested positive for COVID-19 in March. That’s a 38-percent decline from February and about a third of the cases identified in January.

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Bozeman fairgrounds, January 6, 2021.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Montana universities are offering students and staff the one-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the spring semester. The clinics aim to inoculate those who may not be on campus long enough for a two-dose vaccine.

A gloved hand swabs a person's arm, prepping it for a shot.
iStock

More than 1,700 COVID vaccine appointments in Yellowstone County remain open this week. County health officials say the demand for COVID-19 vaccines is falling.

Work to clean up two contaminated ponds bordering the Flathead River at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Superfund site was completed earlier this month.

CFAC announced the cleanup and removal of the two percolation ponds at the now defunct aluminum smelter in a press release. Work wrapped up on March 19. The removal of the ponds means the Flathead River returns to its natural channel.

Healthcare.gov has opened a special enrollment period starting April 1. Those in need of an Affordable Care Act health plan will be able to enroll through Aug 15.

This special enrollment period includes tax credits from the latest federal pandemic stimulus package, allowing people enrolling in the marketplace to reduce the cost of their insurance plans. 

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