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Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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A coronavirus testing swab in a test tube.
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When the Blackfeet Nation closed its borders in the hopes of keeping COVID-19 out, the tribe suffered economically. But the virus still found its way in, sometimes with fatal effects. Kylie Mohr reports on why Blackfeet residents are worried as cases spike for the first time in months.

A gloved hand swabs a person's arm, prepping it for a shot.
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Flu season is just around the corner. That's worrisome to Montana health care officials, particularly in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. They say Montanans need to be proactive to avoid contracting the flu.

Health care worker holding a clipboard.
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As COVID-19 cases across the state surge, the number of available hospital beds for COVID and other patients is quickly becoming a concern. But a shortage of health care workers to staff and watch over patients in those beds is already a problem in some areas of the state.

During this pandemic, people in the United States are dying at rates unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that in the past five months, per capita deaths in the U.S., both from COVID-19 and other causes, have been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.

"It's shocking. It's horrible," says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of health policy and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study.

After days of record COVID-19 cases, Montana health officials say they’ll start releasing daily hospital capacity numbers. Health care providers say hospitals will be overwhelmed if Montanans can’t flatten the curve.

The daily reports will include the total number of hospital beds and ventilators in the state, as well as Intensive Care Unit capacity and the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

Montana’s health department reported 360 new COVID-19 cases Friday. Gallatin County health officials say it feels like we’re hanging onto the ride right now rather than working together to eliminate the illness.

Gallatin County Health Officer Matt Kelley Friday said the county’s seven day rolling average of new daily cases was 53 percent higher than the week before.

He said the health department can’t slow the spread of the illness on its own.

Closeup of a mask on a person's face.
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A federal report from early September says severe negligence at a Whitefish long-term care facility directly contributed to a COVID-19 outbreak. At the time of the findings, four residents had died from the virus.

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.

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.

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