Montana Public Radio


Montana lawmakers Thursday heard testimony on a bill that would allow local elected officials to rescind board of health mandates during times of emergency or disaster. The bill is among a slew of GOP proposals to modify the power of local public health officials.

Republican Rep. David Bedey of Hamilton told the House Local Government Committee that his bill would bring balance between local elected bodies and boards of health.

The COVID-19 pandemic took a bigger economic toll on women than men last spring, according to survey results from Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and Utah. The new findings from Montana State University researchers mirrors a national concern about equity in the workforce.

Megan Terry is a landscape architect in Billings. When the pandemic hit in mid March, she and her husband converted their guest bedroom into a home office where they could work remotely and help their kids with online learning.

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.'

Montana's Senate advanced a bill that would shield businesses and organizations from COVID-19 lawsuits, so long as those businesses are following health care guidelines.

The Session Week 3: MMIP, COVID-19 and Capitol Safety

Jan 18, 2021

The Session Week 3: MMIP, COVID-19 and Capitol Safety

As of Jan. 15, 296 bills have been introduced and none have been signed into law. This week, we're watching how lawmakers are proposing to change the role of public health officials, how the state is addressing missing Indigenous persons, and how the riot in D.C. could have ripple effects in Montana.

Montana's congressman votes as expected against impeachment, and Montana's two senators are having a very public spat. Gov. Gianforte has a rocky rollout of new orders lifting some pandemic restrictions. Attorney General Knudsen gets into a legal fight with a county attorney over local COVID-19 regulations. And university administrators keep a wary eye on a bill headed to the State Senate that would allow guns on campus.

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

Montana Coronavirus And COVID-19 News

Jan 15, 2021
The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention


A reserve of COVID-19 vaccines promised this week by the federal government doesn’t exist, according to reporting by the Washington Post.

The Montana state health department did not respond in time for broadcast to questions about how many vaccines Montana will receive in coming weeks.

Paycheck protection program loan for small business forgiveness application.

The Paycheck Protection Program reopened Friday with a more finessed approach, as small business optimism is waning.

A social-distancing sign at a grocery story.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Updated 1/14/21

Gov. Greg Gianforte has issued a new COVID-19 directive which takes effect January 15. The new directive changes the state's guidelines, and replaces the directive established by former Gov. Steve Bullock. Local health boards still maintain the authority to enforce stricter mandates within each county.

"The whole concept here is we're going to move more to personal responsibility and away from specific mandates," Gianforte said. "Because we trust Montanans with their health and the health of their loved ones."

Vaccine stock photo.

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.

Gov. Greg Gianforte releases his plans for the state’s response to COVID-19 at a press conference January 5, 2021. He said he will rescind the statewide mask mandate, but only after certain criteria are met.
James Bradley / UM Legislative News Service

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in a press conference Wednesday signaled his decision to remove and revise COVID-19 business restrictions put in place by his predecessor.

Gianforte says this includes removing “arbitrary” capacity limits and restricted hours of operation.