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Governor will provide update on Montana's response to COVID-19

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Greg Gianforte
Posted at 11:07 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 15:10:55-05

GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte has scheduled a press conference on Wednesday to provide an update on the state's response to COVID-19.

The press conference is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The governor will be joined by Major General Matt Quinn, the director of the state COVID-19 Task Force.

On January 5th, Gianforte said that he does plan to repeal the statewide mask mandate, but the change will not happen until certain criteria are met. Gianforte said he wants expanded access to vaccinations for the most vulnerable, and protections against lawsuits for schools, businesses, and non-profits in place before the current mandate is repealed.

He said that any changes will happen once "clear and practical" guidelines are in place, he has legislation on his desk that protects organizations that are following those guidelines from lawsuits, and vaccine distribution has been widely expanded to vulnerable populations. The governor said that he wants to see additional COVID vaccinations and is trying to move away from directives and toward incentives.

Data compiled by MTN News shows 600 new COVID cases reported in Montana as of Wednesday morning. The statewide death toll since the pandemic began has now reached 1,069.

The number of active cases in the state is currently 4,836, according to MTN News, and there has been a cumulative total of 88,067 cases of the virus in Montana. Of the total cases, 82,163 have recovered. There are currently 199 people hospitalized for treatment of the virus, and the cumulative number of hospitalizations is 3,903. The number of tests performed in the state has reached 855,069, an increase of 3,475 during the previous 24-hour reporting period.

SOURCES: The numbers reported above reflect the latest data from the official Montana COVID website as well as supplemental data from county health departments. The disparity between numbers provided by the MT Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) and numbers from county health departments continues to grow as COVID cases escalate in Montana. MTN News uses both state data and county data to provide more accurate and timely information. As a result, numbers reported by MTN do not align with the DPHHS figures.

CONTEXT: Not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others experience more severe symptoms, and some do require hospitalization. Every person who tests positive for COVID, however, has the potential to spread the virus to other people, including family members and friends, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public. The CDC released data in late August which emphasizes that people with contributing or chronic medical conditions are at much greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Click here to read more.