Montana Public Radio

Jim Murphy

A gloved hand swabs a person's arm, prepping it for a shot.
iStock

Montana lawmakers are considering bills to expand who is eligible for vaccine-mandate exemptions in workplaces and schools.

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.

2020-21 Influenza Season Activity, Week 47 ending Nov 21, 2020
U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Despite Montana’s unchecked COVID-19 spread, as of Wednesday there’s not a single confirmed case of influenza in the state.

As Montana sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, medical facilities, particularly within tribal nations, are being pushed to their limits.

Kaci Wallette is a nurse at the Poplar Community Hospital, a facility in northeast Montana, where a full staff consists of three nurses and three certified nursing assistants.

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 state health officials flagged six counties Wednesday as areas of significant COVID-19 growth. A hotspot in northeast Montana is grappling to get its case number under control.

Roosevelt County together with Cascade, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Yellowstone Counties, represent sixty-five percent of new reported cases of COVID-19 according to state health officials.

Donna Hosmer of the DPHHS State Public Health Laboratory labels tubes to be used in the COVID-19 testing process before the information is entered into a computer system for tracking purposes.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

A Kalispell assisted-living facility breathed a small sigh of relief Wednesday when its residents’ COVID-19 tests came back negative. Those results took more than a week to return.

Initial tests were given high priority by the state lab, and a state health official says this kind of delay in results is uncommon.

'Up Until Two Weeks Ago, It Was Working'

Jul 17, 2020

As COVID-19 outbreaks increase nationwide, Montana's early warning system falters.

This story is republished with permission from the Montana Free Press. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Montana, surveillance testing designed to serve as an early warning system to prevent large outbreaks and keep businesses open is increasingly becoming ineffective, public health officials told Montana Free Press.

The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

There are currently no reported cases of the new coronavirus in Montana. This, however, may only be temporary. State public health officials say they’re preparing for the worst.

A microscopic view of the COVID-19 virus
NIAID/RML

The COVID-19 virus has officials with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

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