Montana Public Radio


A syringe in a container labeled COVID-19 vaccine.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines is encouraging Montanans to get a COVID-19 vaccine when doses become available. This follows federal emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for persons aged 16 years and older. Ten Montana hospitals received their first shipments of the vaccine this week.

It’s been clear that the 2021 legislative session at the Montana Capitol will look different amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it wasn’t clear how different until Wednesday. Republican state lawmakers are planning an in-person session, rejecting mask requirements and allowing lawmakers the option to tune in remotely.

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers Wednesday advanced a proposal to hold the 2021 legislative session in a hybrid format, allowing for both remote and in-person participation. Republican lawmakers approved holding an in-person session, while Democrats pushed for full remote participation or a postponed session.

Lawmakers heard from a slew of citizens and lobbyists during Wednesday’s Joint House and Senate Rules Committee meeting, pleading them to reshape how they will meet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A district court judge ruled from the bench Wednesday that a Bozeman bar must comply with a county health order intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Gallatin City County Health Board and health officer took Rocking R Bar to court after the popular watering hole intentionally stayed open late nine times in Nov. despite a health order curfew and warning.

Ten large Montana hospitals this week are beginning to vaccinate frontline health care workers against COVID-19. The shot won’t be mandatory at one Helena hospital, which still expects most of its employees to get vaccinated.

Spokesperson Katie Gallagher said Tuesday roughly 70 percent of the 1,200 St. Peter’s Health employees who responded to a recent survey want or are interested in getting vaccinated. She said staff members wanted more information about the science behind the vaccine and known risks and benefits.

More than 3,000 people in Montana have been hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. One hospital in Billings has started celebrating each recovered patient's return home with a new code: Joy.

Just a week ago, machines were artificially doing the work of Ellen Edlund’s lungs and heart.

Edlund, a 20 year Billings Clinic registered nurse hospitalized with serious complications from COVID-19, credits her recovery to her colleagues’ expertise and an outpouring of community support and prayer.

Nurse in a mask sitting, looking tired.

More Montana public health workers are quitting their jobs as they face mounting stress, and in some cases, threats, because of their work during the pandemic. The loss of experience could complicate the work of health departments now and in the future.

Fish cooking over a campfire.

Wildlife managers across the region noted a drastic increase in the number of people recreating in bear country this year, but that spike didn’t lead to a bump in conflicts between humans and grizzlies. 

That's the takeaway from a year-end review of grizzly management in the Lower 48 states this week.

Nursing Home Resident COVID-19 Deaths Per 100 Residents for the four weeks ending 11-15-20

Montana has been identified as a state that has seen one of the highest rates of death due to COVID-19 in nursing homes, according to a report from AARP

 Updated on Dec. 9, 2020

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued 38,584 unemployment insurance payments last week, nearly double the 20,308 it issued the week before. The department paid over $12.5 million in unemployment benefits last week.