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

Rural hospitals, beyond the rhetoric

Protecting rural hospitals was a mainstay of campaign messaging in 2020. But what specific challenges has Montana’s frontier health community faced, how have they kept the lights on, and what could legislators do to help — or hurt — in 2021?

Protecting rural hospitals was a mainstay of campaign messaging in 2020. But what specific challenges has Montana’s frontier health community faced, how have they kept the lights on, and what could legislators do to help — or hurt — in 2021?

Telehealth forever?

Telehealth programs went from rare to 'non-optional' during Montana's COVID year. The policies that allowed that will be up for grabs in 2021.

With health care accounting for such a huge piece of Montana’s economic pie and supporting some 48,000 jobs in the state, hospitals, clinics and individual providers are eagerly awaiting information from policymakers and insurance companies about their plans for telehealth’s future.

MORE HEALTH COVERAGE

‘We’re getting there’

Montana officials tapped St. Peter’s and nine other hospitals in the state to receive one box each of the Pfizer vaccine, each containing 975 doses, to be administered to high-risk employees. St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings was the first to receive its allocation, on Monday, and began distributing inoculations to priority employees on Tuesday afternoon.

‘Put through the wringer’

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

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 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.

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MORE HEALTH REPORTING

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.

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.

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