Montana Public Radio

COVID-19

Nearly 9,000 loans have been approved for small businesses, nonprofits and faith based organizations in Montana so far this year through the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s most recent report shows nearly $126 billion worth of PPP loans had been approved nationwide through Monday. Nearly $465 million from the forgivable loan program 2.0 has gone to Montana.

Montana's state employees are still required to wear a mask when working with the public or coworkers. Gov. Greg Gianforte has continued the requirement for state workers following his repeal of the public-aimed statewide mask mandate last week.

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
NIAID

An estimated 6,000 people spent their lunch hour with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, headlined a noontime online lecture [full audio] hosted by the University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.

Glacier National Park sign at the park's St. Mary entrance.
Glacier National Park (PD)

Glacier National Park is considering a visitor reservation system to handle park congestion amid the coronavirus pandemic. Park officials are also working with the bordering Blackfeet Nation to reopen eastern park entrances that have been closed since last summer.

An updated count of vaccine uptake in Montana's vulnerable settings shows about 70% of residents in long-term care and assisted-living facilities have opted to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Older Montanans have been especially hard-hit by the virus.

Montana's two senators are expected to split their votes on impeachment. The governor has lifted the state's mandatory mask mandate, and Attorney General Austin Knudsen joins the effort to reverse a Biden administration decision to halt the Keystone pipeline.

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

On Friday, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte repealed an executive order put in place by his Democratic predecessor that aimed to combat so-called "dark money" in political elections.

He announced his repeal of former Gov. Steve Bullock's executive order on campaign finance disclosure in a Friday press release that also made good on Gianforte's promise to repeal former Bullock’s statewide mask mandate.

Rep. Ross Fitzgerald (R) - HD17
Montana Legislature

A fifth Montana lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19. Republican Sen. Ross Fitzgerald last worked in the Capitol in-person February 5. 

Republican leaders announced that Fitzgerald, from Fairfield, got tested for the coronavirus on Wednesday after being identified as a close contact of another unnamed lawmaker who contracted the virus. 

Dr. Gregory Holzman, state medical officer.
Montana DPHHS

Montana's chief medical officer is resigning from his post. Dr. Greg Holzman has led much of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to his resignation letter, Holzman will stay on as State Medical Officer until April 16 to help with vaccine distribution in Montana and his replacement’s transition. 

Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CDC

Gov. Greg Gianforte repealed Montana’s mask mandate Friday. Many Montana health officials say it’s too soon, and some are keeping local masking requirements.

Gianforte’s directive, issued Friday morning, says, "Montanans are encouraged to wear masks." That’s a departure from the face covering requirement issued by former Gov. Steve Bullock last July

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