Montana Public Radio


Montana To Receive COVID-19 Drug Treatment

Jul 24, 2020

Next week, Montana hospitals are expected to receive hundreds more doses of an antiviral drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients. YPR News’ Kevin Trevellyan reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sending 24 cases of remdesivir to Montana, enough for roughly 150 standard treatment courses.

Dr. Joshua Christensen, an infectious disease physician at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, is relieved at the incoming shipment, but warns the drug isn’t a silver bullet.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.

At least two public health workers across the state have resigned due to disagreements with elected officials and the public over restrictions aimed at keeping the coronavirus pandemic in check. Lori Drumm is a family practitioner at the Deer Lodge Medical clinic and for about another week, Powell County’s public health officer. MTPR’s Aaron Bolton spoke with Drumm about her resignation.

Inmate Populations for Select County Jails in Montana
Charles Bolte / Montana Public Radio

County jail populations dropped this spring as the state reacted to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, with cases of COVID-19 on the rise, inmate populations in several of Montana’s largest county jails are growing and cell blocks are crowded. Some advocates are calling for more action to reduce the number of people locked up during this time. But local sheriffs say they’re balancing virus risks and public safety. It’s all leaving some inmates worried about their health.

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines July 22 reiterated the federal government’s intention to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine within the calendar year during a roundtable with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration official and nearly a dozen hospital and public health experts across the Treasure State.

Daines struck an urgent tone while discussing progress on domestic vaccine production.

“Because as you know, every day matters. We’re seeing hospitalizations spike, COVID-19 positive tests. Time is of the essence," he said.

As Long Waits For Results Render COVID Tests ‘Useless,’ States Seek Workarounds

Jul 23, 2020
Doctor with a swab test

HELENA, Montana — States frustrated by private laboratories’ increasingly long turnarounds for COVID-19 test results are scrambling to find ways to salvage their testing programs.

CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

As COVID-19 cases are surging across the county and monitoring for the virus hits a national backlog, Montana is turning to a local university to help with COVID-19 testing.

Montana State University will start processing COVID-19 tests for the state next week, according to the governor’s office, and will be able to test up to 500 asymptomatic individuals a day.

Ports Of Entry To Remain On Limited Hours

Jul 21, 2020

Reduced hours of operation at six ports of entry between Montana and Canada will continue through August 20. Travel between the two countries is restricted to essential-only amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Specialist Lynn Hurst confirms that limited hours of operation will continue for the ports of Raymond, Opheim, Morgan, Turner, Del Bonita and Piegan in Montana and Porthill in Idaho.

The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

A 13th person has died because of a COVID-19 outbreak at a memory care facility in Billings, the Yellowstone County health department reported Tuesday.

With the fall semester fast approaching, colleges and universities in Montana are preparing to offer a mix of in person, online and hybrid courses to keep students safe from COVID-19. YPR News’ Jess Sheldahl reviewed state, tribal and private institutions’ reopening plans and shares her reporting with Nicky Ouellet.

Nicky Ouellet: Thank you for sharing your reporting with us today.

Jess Sheldahl: I’m happy to.

Crow tribal leaders met with Montana U.S. Senator Steve Daines on July 17 to request support for the new tribal police department’s operations and novel Coronavirus surge planning.

Senator Daines toured a closed Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) jail in Crow Agency with members of the Crow Executive Branch, Crow Tribal Police, BIA Police and high ranking local judges.

The new Crow Police Department, which was formed June 27, is seeking to reopen the Crow Agency Jail.