Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday that 11 counties will be ready to move into Phase 1B of Montana’s vaccination plan next week. This phase includes those over 70, those between 16 and 69 years old with qualifying health conditions and Native Americans and other people of color.
Gianforte says despite the uncertain vaccine supply availability, the state has now received enough first doses to vaccinate all the healthcare workers in Phase 1A.
"As of yesterday, 42,000 Montanans have received their first dose of the vaccine, and almost half of that occurred just last week," Gianforte said.
According to CDC records, more than 13,000 vaccine doses have been arriving weekly in Montana. However, county health officers say vaccine supply has been inconsistent and unpredictable during the last month.
In order to avoid tying up phone lines, health departments are asking the public not to call about vaccines, which are not yet available.
Gianforte also announced plans to relax mandates limiting business hours and capacity on Friday, though local county orders will remain in effect.
The Montana health department confirmed 597 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesady, along with two more deaths from the virus.