Montana Public Radio

CARES Act

Summer events across Montana were canceled last year thanks to the pandemic. This summer the restrictions are lifted and event organizers are eager to welcome back their legion of faithful followers.

Augusta Rodeo’s Chairman Ben Arps says rodeo organizers knew by the end of March 2020 their big money maker for the Augusta community of 300-plus residents in north central Montana would not happen.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Peck Tribes finalized plans for a new Wellness Center. They hope to close the health care disparity between non-Natives and tribal members.

Text on vintage black sign "Come in we're open" in cafe.
iStock

Another lifeline is coming for the restaurant industry. The Small Business Administration announced this week that it will soon begin taking applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund program, which was established by U.S. Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Spurred by Pandemic, Little Shell Tribe Fast-Tracks Its Health Service Debut

Feb 22, 2021
Linda Watson, enrollment officer for the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, was the first person to receive a dose from the tribe’s covid-19 vaccine supply.
Kevin Trevellyan / Yellowstone Public Radio

Linda Watson draped a sweater with the words “Little Shell Chippewa Tribe” over her as she received the newly recognized tribal nation’s first dose of covid-19 vaccine.

“I wanted to show my pride in being a Little Shell member,” Watson, 72, said. “The Little Shell are doing very good things for the people.”

Megan Myscofski

It’s been a rough year for Montana’s small businesses and more help could be on the way, packaged in Congress’ latest COVID-19 relief bill that's headed to President Donald Trump's desk. But that relief will look different in this round of aid and some programs that helped businesses stay afloat might not continue into the new year.

After a months-long impasse, Montana senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines both say Congress should broker a deal on a new coronavirus relief package, but it’s not yet clear if they’ll agree on what a final package should look like. Renewed calls for a deal come as Montana assigns its final dollars from the last federal aid package. 

Agricultural economists project Montana’s farmers and ranchers will receive more than $535 million in government payments by the end of this year. That’s a 65 percent jump over 2019.

Kate Fuller is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University.

Screen capture from a Montana Department of Labor & Industry FAQ page about unemployment benefits. http://dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Hundreds of recipients of unemployment insurance through the federal CARES Act are now being asked to give that money back. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is designed for gig workers, the self-employed and other groups not normally eligible for unemployment benefits. The Bozeman Chronicle reported Thursday that recipients are now receiving bills, some for more than $10,000. 

Sign on a business door that says 'Attention: for the safety of our patrons and employees, masks are required for entry. Thank you for helpping slow the spread of COVID-19.'
iStock

The vast majority of Montana counties aren’t taking Gov. Steve Bullock up on his offer to help pay for the enforcement of public health guidelines aimed at slowing a surge in COVID-19 cases. It's been two weeks since the governor offered extra support in federal CARES Act funds to pay for counties' enforcement work.*

Montana 2020 Unemployment Claims By Type.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Montana has sent over $1 billion in unemployment benefits to residents since the start of the pandemic. The state passed that milestone in October. As unemployment payments climbed during the pandemic, so did fraud.

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