Montana Public Radio

Steve Bullock

Closeup of a mask on a person's face.
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Over the past month, health officers in two rural Montana counties have resigned over disagreements with county officials and residents over local coronavirus response plans.

Ravalli County Health Officer Dr. Carol Calderwood gave her resignation letter to county commissioners this weekend, over what she called “locally elected officials’ decision to disobey the Governor’s Directives without my input.”

Campaign Beat: Fundraising, Schools And The Politics Of Masks

Jul 17, 2020

Gov. Bullock's mask mandate becomes a political football with one conservative commentator predicting "mass civil disobedience.” Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Elsie Arntzen gets into a public feud with the governor over school reopenings. And new fundraising numbers and polls show Montana's top races up for grabs.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Records: Montana Governor Feared Backlash Over Mask Mandate

Jul 17, 2020

Gov. Steve Bullock's statewide mask mandate came after hundreds of Montana residents, business owners and health care leaders demanded the move as virus cases mounted in the state, records obtained by The Associated Press reveal.

'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.


Democratic members of a Montana legislative committee prematurely left a meeting today in what one lawmaker is calling a protest of Republicans not wearing face masks at the Capitol.

Montana Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Elsie Arntzen says Gov. Steve Bullock has not included her office in discussions about the state’s coronavirus response involving education.

Hours after Gov. Bullock announced an update on relief dollars for K-12 schools, Superintendent Arntzen, who is running for reelection, criticized the governor in a tweet.

A coronavirus testing swab in a test tube.
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Health officials in Montana announced two deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, one connected to an outbreak at a nursing home in Billings and the other in Lewis and Clark County.

A man in his 70s died early Thursday at Canyon Creek Memory Care which has lost eight other residents to the respiratory virus, said the Yellowstone County health department.

This week, Montana’s Republican candidate for governor unveiled what he’s billing a comeback plan for the state.

During a press conference July 15 in Missoula, current U.S. Congressman Greg Gianforte said the novel coronavirus has created a “economic pandemic” that must also be cured.

Gov. Steve Bullock (center) with Crow Nation Chairman AJ Not Afraid (R) and officials from the Indian Health Services at a community testing event in Crow Agency May 27, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Gov. Steve Bullock issued a mandate effective immediately ordering most Montanans to wear masks while inside public spaces and at large outdoor gatherings when social distancing isn’t possible. The call to mask up comes as the state exceeded 1,000 active cases of COVID-19.

Care Home Refused Free Tests. Now, Nearly Everyone Has Virus

Jul 14, 2020
On June 24, assisted living businesses and workers asked the Montana Legislature to increase payments for day-to-day services for seniors and people with disabilities.
(PD)

It was meant to be a last line of defense to protect the most vulnerable as the coronavirus spread across the United States: Montana officials offered free testing in May for staff and residents at assisted living and long-term care facilities.

But not all of them followed through, according to state data, including a facility in Billings that cares for people with dementia and other memory problems.

The virus has infected almost every resident there and killed eight, accounting for almost a quarter of Montana's 34 confirmed deaths. Thirty-six employees also have tested positive.

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