Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Health and Human Services

A PCR testing machine at the University of Montana Genomics Core lab in Missoula, Montana.
Aaron Bolton

As health officials continue to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, making sure those vaccines remain effective against new variants of the virus is an important part of controlling the pandemic. Montana’s state health department and universities are working to stay on top of the virus evolution.

Montana lawmakers added $1 billion back into a preliminary outline of the state health department’s biennial budget. The lawmakers overseeing state health finances voted unanimously to restore the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services budget.

Lawmakers Pose Tough Questions To Gianforte’s Top DPHHS Nominee

Feb 12, 2021
Eliza Wiley / Montana Free Press

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s pick to lead the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the state’s largest department, faced robust questioning in a confirmation hearing this week.

Vaccine stock photo.
(PD)

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday that 11 counties will be ready to move into Phase 1B of Montana’s vaccination plan next week. This phase includes those over 70, those between 16 and 69 years old with qualifying health conditions and Native Americans and other people of color.

COVID-19 Cases In Montana Schools Double

Sep 25, 2020

Twice as many schools in Montana are reporting more than twice as many cases of the novel coronavirus among students and stuff over the week prior.

In a weekly report released Wednesday, the state health department announced 62 more schools reported coronavirus cases than the previous week, for a total of 121 schools kindergarten through university statewide.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / MTPR

The state’s budget has healthy reserves to make up for revenue shortfalls amid economic fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to state finance experts.

On Wednesday, Legislative Fiscal Division staff presented a report predicting the state’s reserves can cover projected losses through the next fiscal year, but that the rainy day fund will be weaker by the 2023 biennium.

The most recent data analysis this week by Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services revealed more about COVID-19’s impact on Native Americans. 

New analysis from the state health department shows Native Americans account for less than 7 percent of Montana’s population but were 36 percent of the 22 people who had died from Covid-19.

The report from Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services also found that Native Americans represent 15 percent of the state’s total cases, more than double their representation in Montana’s population.

Last weekend, Montana saw its biggest spike yet in COVID-19 cases. YPR reports how the disease is impacting Native Americans across the state.

A vape device with flavor liquids.
iStock

The state health department wants to resurrect a ban on flavored e-cigarette sales in Montana. A temporary ban enacted late last year expired several months ago, and now the agency wants to permanently ban the sale of almost all flavored e-cigarette products.

Some Montana vape retailers are vowing to push back hard on the idea, leading to what may be the next legal battleground between those retailers and the administration of Gov. Steve Bullock.

Mother with her baby.
iStock

Montana families needing a little extra help right with nutrition and food services should not hesitate to apply for the Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, program.

That message from state health department officials, like Jamie Palagi who says the COVID-19 pandemic continues to economically stress many young families.

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