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Montana coronavirus report

The latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic in Montana, including updated case count maps and original in-depth reporting.

Latest health Reporting

‘Put through the wringer’

With staffing hobbled by COVID and quarantine, Kalispell’s hospital imports extra help and prepares to open an alternative care facility built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Approximately 70 employees at Kalispell’s hospital currently have COVID-19, and another 88 are in quarantine after coming in contact with the virus that is raging across Montana and the Flathead Valley.

Phase none

Bullock says the state can’t afford a return to stay-at-home restrictions as COVID-19 spreads uncontrolled.

As COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrolled across Montana, four hospitals are operating beyond their capacity, schools and businesses are closing and officials are pleading for people to follow public health guidance.

Would he or wouldn’t he?

Under attack by Steve Bullock, Steve Daines insists he'll protect patients with preexisting conditions — even as he works to overturn the law protecting them. Insurance experts say that doesn't add up.

Under attack by challenger Steve Bullock, incumbent Sen. Steve Daines insists he’ll protect patients with preexisting conditions — even as he works to overturn the law protecting them. Insurance experts say that doesn’t add up.

MORE HEALTH COVERAGE

COVID crunch putting hospitals on high alert

While both Billings hospitals say they’re currently able to meet demand, stay supplied and take on new patients, medical staff are beginning to feel overwhelmed, a feeling exacerbated by high numbers of staff members testing positive themselves or having to quarantine because of exposure elsewhere.

Who has the cure for health care?

While the two candidates’ paths would seem to converge at the same distant peak, where adequate health care is accessible and affordable for all Montanans, their distinct routes are largely defined by the point at which they diverge: the Affordable Care Act.

Lingering concerns

While it’s long been known that smoke can be dangerous when in the thick of it — triggering asthma attacks, cardiac arrests, hospitalizations and more — new research confirmed what public health experts feared: Wildfire haze can have consequences long after it’s gone.

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MORE HEALTH REPORTING

Telemedicine and Montana’s digital divide

Since launching in March, Telehealth Access for Seniors has raised $85,000 and donated 1,900 devices — some brand-new — to seniors and low-income people in 26 states. Alongside cofounder Aakshi Agarwal, Hannah’s classmate at Yale, Arjun and Hannah have coordinated the efforts of 315 volunteers, mostly students.

GOP ad misrepresents Bullock’s health care stance

An attack ad, which was released in mid-July, states that Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democratic candidate for the Senate, supports a government-run health care program that would wreak havoc on the state’s health care infrastructure. Kaiser Health News rates the claims false.

Months into pandemic, concern persists for homeless people

The COVID-19 pandemic, for many shelters and residents, has proven to be a distinct challenge compared to other disasters, such as fires or floods. Part of the difficulty comes from a tangled web of bureaucratic procedures and relief funds at the federal, state and local levels. But nearly five months into the crisis, some providers also describe feeling forgotten or misunderstood by policy makers, to the detriment of the populations they serve.

Hard to help

McCully and other Montana public health officials said the number of people who are not cooperating with contact tracers is small, but that they waste valuable resources when they mislead nurses and pose a risk to others when they ignore health officials’ requests for information. Lack of cooperation is also taking a toll on public health nurses who are working long hours in the midst of a pandemic.

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