Montana Public Radio

COVID-19

Tribes Report Highest Vaccination Rates in Montana

Mar 22, 2021

While Gov. Greg Gianforte recently announced that all Montanans will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on Apr. 1, tribal nations in the state have made the vaccine available to everyone and are currently reporting some of the highest vaccination rates in Montana.

Capitol Talk: Budget Puzzle, Lawsuits And The Limits Of Public Input

Mar 19, 2021

The many moving parts of the state budget have pushed lawmakers to extend the session — but Montana's Legislature isn't the state's only busy branch.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has filed yet another lawsuit against the Biden Administration. At the same time, prominent Montanans are suing Gov. Greg Gianforte over his effort to directly appoint judges.

And, as a racist social media post by a Republican lawmaker resurfaces, Montanans are learning that overwhelming public opposition to legislation does not guarantee a bill's defeat.

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

The U.S. Small Business Administration launched an online portal Friday where venues closed by the pandemic can apply for grant money. 

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is open to operators of movie theaters, live performing arts organizations, relevant museums, zoos and aquariums and others. 

St. Mary Visitor Center near Glacier National Park's east entrance.
National Park Service (PD)

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council voted Wednesday to reopen roads to and from the east gates of Glacier National Park. The move to reopen roads on the Blackfeet reservation leading to the bordering Glacier National Park comes after a full year of pandemic-related closures.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Tuesday said all Montanans, 16 and older, will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Apr. 1.

Pointing to signs that the national supply of COVID-19 vaccine is ramping up and a number of Montana counties nearly complete with the current vaccination phase, Gov. Gianforte said it was time for the state to prepare for its next milestone at the start of next month.

A syringe in a container labeled COVID-19 vaccine.
iStock

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana residents ages 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 1, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Tuesday.

Vaccines are currently available to residents 60 or older, health care workers, people of color and those with certain medical conditions. Educators are eligible through a federal partnership with several pharmacies in the state, but remain ineligible for the vaccines through the state’s distribution plan.

With limited information, Montana lawmakers are beginning to sort out how to spend nearly $1 billion in state funds from the federal coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.

Of Montana’s slice from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Legislature needs to appropriate an estimated $910 million in discretionary state money.

State relief spending must generally be tied to coronavirus-related impacts, though lawmakers have more latitude with water, sewer and broadband infrastructure dollars.

Sign reading 'temporarily closed dut to coronavirus pandemic'.
iStock

A year ago this week on the second Saturday of March in 2020, then-governor Steve Bullock held a press conference over a scratchy phone line to announce that four people in Montana had tested positive for COVID-19. A lot changed soon after. Days later, schools closed their doors. By the end of the month, Bullock issued a stay-at-home order. National Guard soldier and airmen began screening out-of-state travelers at airports and railroad stations. Unemployment surged. Our lives changed in a big way.

MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney and YPR's Nicky Ouellet look back at where we've been and forward to where we're going.

Eighty-five veterans Thursday received the single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Glasgow, Montana. The shots were part of nearly 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine distributed by Montana Veteran Affairs since December.

The Montana VA Health Care System, which is leading a national pilot program to bring COVID-19 vaccines to rural veterans, flew the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the Fort Harrison Medical VA Center in Helena to a clinic in Glasgow early Thursday morning.

Montana’s Lewis and Clark County will lift all COVID-19 related restrictions, except its mask mandate, on Friday. The health board’s decision comes as more communities consider peeling back or amending some health orders as COVID-19 cases have fallen.

The Lewis and Clark City-County Board of Health will pull back restrictions on the number of attendees at events, hours of operation for businesses, and capacity limits at bars, restaurants, distilleries, breweries, casinos, gyms and fitness centers.

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