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VA Secretary Robert Wilkie speaking outside of the Kalispell, MT VA clinic, September 29, 2020.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is visiting Montana this week to highlight the agency’s increased use of telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic. More veterans are choosing to visit with their providers electronically, although others don’t know that’s an option.

Montana Coronavirus And COVID-19 News

7 hours ago
The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Update 09/29/20

The State of Montana reported 321 new lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Monday from over 2,730 tests. The state has recorded more than 300 cases per day for five of the past six days.

Some school administrators are responding to an increase in COVID-19 cases connected with schools by temporarily suspending in-person instruction. Poplar School District and Butte Central High School are both in their second weeks of remote instruction, and Conrad Public Schools switches to remote learning Wednesday.

The candidates for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House met in their first debate hosted by MontanaPBS. Some fact checking in the debate was done by students and professors at the University of Montana School of Journalism. Associate Professor Lee Banville helped lead that effort and joins us now to walk through some of the highlights.

Candidates for Montana’s lone U.S. House of Representatives seat met in a debate Wednesday night hosted by MontanaPBS. MTPR’s Shaylee Ragar reports that in their first match up this election cycle, Matt Rosendale and Kathleen Williams traded barbed words as they pitched themselves as the best person for the job.

Community leaders reviewed COVID-19’s disproportionate impact to Indigenous people across Montana during a virtual roundtable on Sept. 23. They also considered ways to improve health outcomes among tribal members.

Democratic state Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy of Crow Agency lamented the rise of COVID-19 cases in tribal communities after Montana began reopening in June, during the panel discussion hosted by Protect our Care Montana

“It’s a tsunami impact upon our people across the nation,” Peregoy said.

Wildfires’ Toxic Air Leaves Damage Long After the Smoke Clears

Sep 23, 2020

SEELEY LAKE, Mont. — When researchers arrived in this town tucked in the Northern Rockies three years ago, they could still smell the smoke a day after it cleared from devastating wildfires. Their plan was to chart how long it took for people to recover from living for seven weeks surrounded by relentless smoke.

They still don’t know, because most residents haven’t recovered. In fact, they’ve gotten worse.

iStock

Nine million dollars in federal grants coming into Montana is aimed at bolstering mental health services for students and their families. The grant announcement Monday comes as schools are beginning to understand how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting students’ mental health.

A new report released Tuesday says around 60 percent of Montana businesses last year had at least one worker enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the health care program for low income adults has been on the rise for the last four months.

At a meeting in Bozeman, Barbara Wagner, chief economist of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said nearly 20 percent of the state’s entire workforce was enrolled in Medicaid at one point or another last year.

Telemedicine And Montana’s Digital Divide

Sep 10, 2020

When COVID-19 safety protocols shifted whole sectors of the healthcare industry from in person visits to a telehealth model, Arjun and Hannah Verma watched their parents, a pulmonologist and a cardiologist, fret about some of their elderly patients who were unprepared for the switch. The elder Vermas were concerned that their patients who didn’t own camera enabled devices or know how to use video conferencing platforms would be forced to forgo critical care.

School hallway.
iStock

School districts across Montana have been in session for a few weeks now and there have already been confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in schools. But county health departments and school districts are taking varied approaches in how they are disclosing those cases to students, parents, staff and the broader public. MTPR's Aaron Bolton talks with YPR's Nicky Ouellet about his reporting on this.

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