Montana Public Radio

Matt Kelley

Gov. Greg Gianforte releases his plans for the state’s response to COVID-19 at a press conference January 5, 2021. He said he will rescind the statewide mask mandate, but only after certain criteria are met.
James Bradley / UM Legislative News Service

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in a press conference Wednesday signaled his decision to remove and revise COVID-19 business restrictions put in place by his predecessor.

Gianforte says this includes removing “arbitrary” capacity limits and restricted hours of operation. 

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Bozeman fairgrounds, January 6, 2011.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

As new COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in the state, Montana’s large counties say the COVID vaccine will not be available to those in Phase 1B for at least the next few weeks due to uncertain vaccine supply.

Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley said the county is adapting its vaccine plan to match Governor Greg Gianforte’s revisions in a press conference Friday.

The number of total COVID-19 cases associated with K-12 schools in Montana has doubled over a two week stretch, according to the most recent state data. Gallatin County has started releasing supplemental weekly reports with new CDC metrics to help schools make decisions.

Over 600 students and more than 250 K-12 staff across the state tested positive for the coronavirus through Oct. 9.

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.

Gallatin County’s health officer is reiterating the need for planning for group events amid the coronavirus pandemic after an outdoor rally attended by Vice President Mike Pence Monday drew several hundred people eager to catch a glimpse of one of the nation’s highest-ranking elected officials.

Gallatin County Health Officer Kelley says Gallatin County received two emails expressing concern about the Pence rally size and spacing within the crowd.

Advocates for Montana inmates say their fears of COVID-19 outbreaks within correctional facilities are coming true. They’re demanding state officials take bigger steps to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further.

Signs in hand, organizers stood outside the governor’s residence in Helena on Wednesday afternoon denouncing what they call inaction on behalf of the incarcerated.

University of Montana's oval and Main Hall.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

As college students returned to class, Montana’s two largest universities are not disclosing COVID-19 cases on campus. Local health departments are taking different approaches when it comes to reporting the numbers. Some faculty say they’d feel safer knowing the details of COVID-19’s movement at their school.

Over 100 people connected to a construction site at Spanish Peaks Mountain Club in Big Sky tested positive for COVID-19 in July.

According to the County Health Officer Matt Kelley, CrossHarbor Capital, the owner of the Yellowstone Club and a parent company of Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin, hired a private company called Matrix Medical to do surveillance testing, follow-up with people who tested positive and perform contact tracing.

'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.

Montana officials announced 67 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, breaking the state’s record for the most new cases in a single day. Health officials worry large gatherings for the Fourth of July could accelerate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While Montana maintains one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., Governor Steve Bullock said on a press call Thursday that he's concerned. Montana crossed the 1,000 total case mark this week.

Pages