Montana Public Radio

COVID-19

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.

Rep. Sharon Greef, Governor Greg Gianforte, and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen are pictured at the HB 176 bill signing, April 19, 2021.
Gov. Gianforte's office

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed several bills into law this week, including policies to end same-day voting registration and change voter ID requirements; limit local public health powers; expand telehealth access; give businesses tax breaks for vocational training; allow insurance companies to consider gender when setting rates; address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people; and update state laws after federal recognition of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Montana Coronavirus And COVID-19 News

Apr 19, 2021
The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

04/19/21

While active COVID-19 cases in Montana are holding steady at around 1,000 cases, health officials in and around the Greater Gallatin area say new case counts are rising.

"This week Gallatin County has the highest number of cases of COVID in the state and Park County is also seeing new cases almost every day," Park County Health Officer Laurel Desnick said during her latest weekly COVID-19 update April 16.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

COVID leads to the cancellation of floor sessions at the Legislature as the Republican leaders are in a subpoena standoff with the state Supreme Court. All this as a bill to ban abortion dies in the Senate, the governor tries to prohibit "vaccine passports" and a Montanan may become the next head of the Bureau of Land Management.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Updated 04/15/21

As of February 12, 2021, there is no statewide mask mandate in Montana, nor limits on business hours. However, more restrictive rules are in place in some localities.

Masks, social distancing and good sanitation practices are still recommended throughout the state.

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.

How Blackfeet Nation Vaccinated So Many So Quickly

Apr 15, 2021

Within days of Montana’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, Blackfeet Nation declared a state of emergency and closed down. One year later, Blackfeet Nation is one area leading the country in high vaccination rates. Community buy-in is one of the reasons health care workers can now turn their vaccination efforts toward those outside of the reservation.

COVID vaccine record card
iStock

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.

John Smith, Leo Smith and Jolen Brink 4 days after Leo was discharged from the NICU in early May 2020. Leo weighed just over 4 lbs.
Courtesy Nick Cote

Last April, John Smith and Jolene Brink were a young Missoula couple navigating a high-risk birth in the opening days of an international pandemic. Their lives have significantly changed since then. Now the two are left pondering family life in a post-pandemic world.

Leo Marlay Smith had his first birthday late last month, celebrating with grandparents over FaceTime. It's said that a first birthday party is less for the baby and more for the recognition of significant milestones: survival, growth and change. 

Circa February 2021: COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with syringes or hypodermic needles. Vaccination Record Cards will be offered with each shot and a reminder for the second dose.
iStock

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued Tuesday an executive order banning the development or use of vaccine passports in Montana.

The move by Gianforte comes as vaccine passports — documents used to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine — have been portrayed by Republicans across the country as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices.

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