Montana

At an Overrun ICU, ‘the Problem Is We Are Running Out of Hallways’

BILLINGS, Mont. — Nurses fill the hospital room to turn a patient from his stomach to his back. The ventilator forcing air into him is most effective when he’s on his stomach, so he is in that position most hours of the day, sedated and paralyzed by drugs. Lying on his stomach all those hours …

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Más de la mitad de los estados han revertido poderes de salud pública durante la pandemia

Motivados por votantes enojados por los cierres y los mandatos sobre el uso de máscaras durante la pandemia, legisladores republicanos en más de la mitad de los estados de EE.UU. están quitando los poderes que los funcionarios estatales y locales usan para proteger al público contra las enfermedades infecciosas. Una revisión de KHN encontró que, …

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Under Pressure, Montana Hospital Considers Adding Psych Beds Amid a Shortage

Gary Popiel had to drive more than 200 miles round trip to visit his adult daughters in separate behavioral health facilities as they received psychiatric and medical treatment.   It was 2000, and the family’s only options for inpatient psychiatric beds were in Helena and Missoula — far from their Bozeman, Montana, home and from each …

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New Montana Law Sows Confusion, Defiance Over School Quarantines

As classes get underway this week and next, Montana school and county health officials are grappling with how a new state law that bans vaccine discrimination should apply to quarantine orders for students and staffers exposed to covid-19. It’s the latest fallout from the law that says businesses and governmental entities can’t treat people differently …

New Montana Law Sows Confusion, Defiance Over School Quarantines Read More »

Have Vaccines, Will Travel: On the Road With a Covid Entrepreneur

VIRGINIA CITY, Mont. — While many businesses in this southwestern Montana “ghost town” reel in tourists with its mining and Wild West vigilante past, one businessman arrived offering a modern product: covid-19 vaccines. Kyle Austin, a traveling pharmacist, set up his mobile clinic in Virginia City on a recent Saturday, the latest stop on his …

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A Quarter of US Hospitals, and Counting, Demand Workers Get Vaccinated. But Not Here.

Hospitals coast to coast are demanding their employees get vaccinated against covid as the highly contagious delta variant tears through populations with low vaccination rates. Nearly 1,500 hospitals — roughly a quarter of all hospitals in the U.S. —now require staffers to get a covid vaccine, said Colin Milligan, a spokesperson for the American Hospital …

A Quarter of US Hospitals, and Counting, Demand Workers Get Vaccinated. But Not Here. Read More »

Journalists Assess the Latest Covid Surge and the Nation’s Vaccination Effort

KHN freelancer Mark Kreidler discussed why professional athletes are not taking a more affirmative role in pushing covid vaccines on Newsy on Tuesday. Click here to watch Kreidler on Newsy Read Kreidler’s “Big Leagues Balk at Endorsing Vaccination“ KHN Midwest correspondent Cara Anthony discussed masking mandates, vaccine efficacy and breakthrough covid cases on Illinois Public …

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Feds to Nix Work Requirements in Montana Medicaid Expansion Program

Federal health officials will likely reject Montana’s request to include work requirements for beneficiaries of its Medicaid expansion program, which insures 100,000 low-income Montana adults, state officials said. Three years after the Trump administration encouraged states to require proof that adult enrollees are working a certain number of hours or looking for work as a …

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Covid Renews Interest in Radiation, but Docs Caution Against Pilgrimages to Radon-Filled Mines

BOULDER, Mont. — Twice a year, Brian Tichenor makes the 1,200-mile drive each way from his home in Kansas to a defunct uranium mine in Montana, where he takes an elevator 85 feet below the surface to sit amid radioactive radon gas to ease the pain from his chronic eye condition. “I found it like …

Covid Renews Interest in Radiation, but Docs Caution Against Pilgrimages to Radon-Filled Mines Read More »

Readers and Tweeters Connect the Dots on Topics From Vaccine Development to Long Covid

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. A Concerned Taxpayer Takes Stock of Vaccine Efforts Your recent article “Novavax’s Effort to Vaccinate the World, From Zero to Not Quite Warp Speed” (July 19) seems to reveal Maryland-based Novavax …

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Wildfire Smoke Drives People in Low-Vaccinated Areas Indoors, Raising Outbreak Fears

MISSOULA, Mont. — Missoula’s new downtown library was teeming with people who might typically spend a Saturday afternoon hiking, biking or otherwise making the most of Montana’s abundant outdoor recreation. One look at the soupy haze blanketing the city and it was clear why. “We’re definitely trying to stay out of the smoke,” Charlie Booher …

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Influx of Medical School Students Could Overwhelm Montana Resources, Program Leaders Warn

Opening two new medical schools in Montana would stretch and possibly overwhelm the state’s physicians who provide the clinical training that students need to become doctors, according to leaders of a University of Washington medical school program that relies on those teaching physicians. The University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI program in Montana requires …

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Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount

DUTTON, Mont. — Vern Greyn was standing in the raised bucket of a tractor, trimming dead branches off a tree, when he lost his balance. He fell 12 feet and struck his head on the concrete patio outside his house in this small farming town on the central Montana plains. Greyn, then 58, couldn’t move. …

Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount Read More »

States Step Up Push to Regulate Pharmacy Drug Brokers

Under pressure to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug costs, states are targeting companies that serve as conduits for drug manufacturers, health insurers and pharmacies. More than 100 separate bills regulating those companies, known as pharmacy benefit managers, have been introduced in 42 states this year, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy, which …

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Journalists Follow Up on Unused Vaccines and For-Profit Medical Schools

KHN correspondent Rachana Pradhan discussed the politics of unused Johnson & Johnson covid vaccines and the FDA’s potential announcement that their shelf life can be extended on Newsy on June 11. Click here to watch Pradhan on Newsy Read Pradhan’s “Unused Johnson & Johnson Covid Doses Are Piling Up as FDA Waits to See if …

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It’s About to Get Tougher for Transgender People in Montana to Amend Birth Certificates

Kyndra Nevin recalls with dread having to ask a Montana judge to sign an order documenting that she’d had gender-confirmation surgery so she could change the gender on her birth certificate to female. Nevin, a Bozeman resident and now 55, said the process she went through about a decade ago was humiliating and she continually …

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En crisis de salud mental, el 911 ahora no siempre responde con policías

Cuando Kiki Radermacher, terapeuta de salud mental, llegó a una casa de Missoula, Montana, por una llamada de emergencia al 911 a fines de mayo, el hombre que había pedido ayuda estaba atrincheado en una esquina, gritándole a los policías.  La casa que estaba alquilando iba a venderse. Había llamado al 911 cuando el miedo …

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In Mental Health Crises, a 911 Call Now Brings a Mixed Team of Helpers — And Maybe No Cops

By the time Kiki Radermacher, a mental health therapist, arrived at a Missoula, Montana, home on an emergency 911 call in late May, the man who had called for help was backed into a corner and yelling at police officers. The home, which he was renting, was about to be sold. He had called 911 …

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New Montana Laws Enshrine Health Care Alternatives, for Better or Worse

When Paul Rana’s primary care physician left the VA clinic in Kalispell to open her own practice, he followed her. But instead of picking up a new health insurance policy, Rana and his partner agreed to pay a monthly fee that came with the promise of better access. Their provider, Dr. Lexi Tabor-Manaker, opened Glacier …

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Montana Med School Clash Revives For-Profit Vs. Nonprofit Flap

Two universities are eyeing the chance to be the first to build a medical school in one of the few states without one. The jockeying of the two schools — one a nonprofit, the other for-profit — to open campuses in Montana highlights the rapid spread of for-profit medical learning centers despite their once-blemished reputation. …

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KHN Journalists Comment on Abortion Case, Wasted Covid Doses

KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner discussed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge in an abortion case from Mississippi on Newsy on Tuesday. Click here to watch Rovner on Newsy KHN freelancer Sara Reardon discussed allegations by a rail company that a clinic in Libby, Montana, is defrauding Medicare by overdiagnosing asbestos-related diseases on …

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Don’t Eat the Yellowstone Snow: Elite Ski Resort Aims to Turn Sewage Into Powder

An exclusive Montana resort wants to turn sewage into snow so that its rich and famous members can ski its slopes in a winter season that’s shrinking because of climate change. This story also ran on Men’s Health. It can be republished for free. The Yellowstone Club — a ski and golf resort just north …

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What the Slowing Vaccine Rates Mean for One Rural Montana County

KALISPELL, Mont. — The covid vaccination operation at the Flathead County fairgrounds can dole out 1,000 doses in seven hours. But demand has plummeted recently, down to fewer than 70 requests for the shots a day. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. So, at the start of May, the …

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5 Things to Know About Health Care Changes in Montana

HELENA, Mont. — The 2021 Montana legislative session will be remembered as one of the state’s most consequential as a Republican-led legislature and governor’s office passed new laws restricting abortions, lowering taxes and regulating marijuana. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. But the debate over those and other highly publicized issues may …

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In Poisoned Montana Town, Warren Buffett-Owned Railroad Accuses Clinic of Medicare Fraud

Patricia Denny and her husband, Jeff, had hoped to one day get an RV and travel the country. Instead, Jeff has been forced into retirement at age 54 by a lung disease caused by the asbestos that’s polluted the small town of Libby, Montana, for decades. This story also ran on Lee Enterprises. It can …

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From Rotten Teeth to Advanced Cancer, Patients Feel the Effects of Treatment Delays

With medical visits picking up again among patients vaccinated against covid-19, health providers are starting to see the consequences of a year of pandemic-delayed preventive and emergency care as they find more advanced cancer and rotting and damaged teeth, among other ailments. This story also ran on The Washington Post. It can be republished for …

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Journalists Unpack Patchwork Vaccine Rollout, Rapid Covid Tests and More

California Healthline correspondent Rachel Bluth unpacked California’s newly expanded vaccine eligibility rules and the state’s vaccine appointment website on KALW’s “Your Call” on Thursday. Click here to hear Bluth on KALW California Healthline correspondent Angela Hart discussed California cities’ experiment with city-managed homeless camps on KQED’s “Forum” on Thursday. Click here to hear Hart on …

Journalists Unpack Patchwork Vaccine Rollout, Rapid Covid Tests and More Read More »

Montana Sticks to Its Patchwork Covid Vaccine Rollout as Eligibility Expands

MISSOULA, Mont. — Montana’s covid-19 vaccine distribution is among the most efficient in the nation, but closer examination reveals a patchwork of systems among counties and tribal governments that will be put to the test as the state opens vaccine eligibility to all people 16 and older starting this month. This story also ran on …

Montana Sticks to Its Patchwork Covid Vaccine Rollout as Eligibility Expands Read More »

Getting a Prescription to Die Remains Tricky Even as Aid-in-Dying Bills Gain Momentum

Linda Heim knew her dad didn’t plan to wait for the cancer to kill him. For decades, he’d lived in Montana, which they’d thought was one of the few places where terminally ill people could get a prescription to end their life. This story also ran on Time. It can be republished for free. After …

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Covid-Inspired Montana Health Insurance Proposal Wouldn’t Kick In for 2 Years

[UPDATED at 1 p.m. ET] For employees of small businesses in Montana suddenly laid off during the covid-19 pandemic, maintaining health insurance coverage could be a struggle. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. Employers with 20 or more workers offer a bridge insurance program made possible by a federal …

Covid-Inspired Montana Health Insurance Proposal Wouldn’t Kick In for 2 Years Read More »

The Boom in Out-of-State Telehealth Threatens In-State Providers

HELENA, Mont. — When the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation began offering telehealth services in Montana in early February, the nation’s largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider promised quality care for far-flung residents without their even having to leave home. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. That promise was what Montana …

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Push Is On for States to Ban Organ Transplant Discrimination

Griffin Dalrymple is an energetic 7-year-old who loves going to school in Eureka, Montana. But two years ago, the boy described by his mother, Jayci, as a “ball of fire” was suddenly knocked back by severe bacterial pneumonia that hospitalized him for two weeks. As her son lay in the intensive care unit with a …

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Journalists Dissect Covid Vaccines and Variants

KHN correspondent Rachana Pradhan discussed vaccine production and supply chains on KERA’s “Think” with host Krys Boyd, C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” and PBS’ “NewsHour Weekend.” She also joined Newsy to discuss how federal rules restrict patients and their doctors from knowing whether someone has been infected by a covid-19 variant. Click here to hear Pradhan on …

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Looking to Kentucky’s Past to Understand Montana Health Nominee’s Future

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. The nominee to be Montana’s next health director faced an unwieldy disease outbreak and pushed Medicaid work requirements — two issues looming in Montana — when he held a similar job in Kentucky. Montana senators will soon decide whether to confirm Adam Meier, Republican Gov. Greg …

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With GOP Back at Helm, Montana Renews Push to Sniff Out Welfare Fraud

Montana is considering becoming the latest state to intensify its hunt for welfare overpayments and fraud, a move expected to remove more than 1,500 enrollees from low-income health coverage at a time when the pandemic has left more people needing help. With Republicans now controlling both chambers of the Montana legislature and the governor’s office, …

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Spurred by Pandemic, Little Shell Tribe Fast-Tracks Its Health Service Debut

This story also ran on Time. It can be republished for free. Linda Watson draped a sweater with the words “Little Shell Chippewa Tribe” over her as she received the newly recognized tribal nation’s first dose of covid-19 vaccine. “I wanted to show my pride in being a Little Shell member,” Watson, 72, said. “The …

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To Vaccinate Veterans, Health Care Workers Must Cross Mountains, Plains and Tundra

This story also ran on Time. It can be republished for free. A Learjet 31 took off before daybreak from Helena Regional Airport in Montana, carrying six Veterans Affairs medical providers and 250 doses of historic cargo cradled in a plug-in cooler designed to minimize breakage. Even in a state where 80-mph speed limits are …

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Montana’s Health Policy MVP Takes Her Playbook on the Road

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. Marilyn Bartlett might be the closest thing health policy has to a folk hero. A certified public accountant who barely tops 5 feet, Bartlett bears zero resemblance to Paul Bunyan. But she did take an ax to Montana’s hospital prices in 2016, stopping the state’s employee …

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As Demand for Mental Health Care Spikes, Budget Ax Set to Strike

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. HELENA, Mont. — When the pandemic hit, health officials in Montana’s Beaverhead County had barely begun to fill a hole left by the 2017 closure of the local public assistance office, mental health clinic, chemical dependency center and job placement office after the state’s last budget …

As Demand for Mental Health Care Spikes, Budget Ax Set to Strike Read More »

Pandemic Sends a Couple Into Indefinite Long Distance Though Just Miles Apart

Every Sunday afternoon, Suzan Mubarak keeps an eye on her phone. That is when her boyfriend will call to let her know he’s outside her house for their weekly wave. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. Mubarak, 31, and Mitch Domier, 43, live a few miles apart in Bozeman, …

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In Fast-Moving Pandemic, Health Officials Try to Change Minds at Warp Speed

Nine months into the pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the U.S., Kim Larson is still trying to convince others in her northern Montana county that COVID-19 is dangerous. As Hill County Health Department director and county health officer, Larson continues to hear people say the coronavirus is just like a bad …

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Health Officials Fear Pandemic-Related Suicide Spike Among Native Youth

WOLF POINT, Mont. — Fallen pine cones covered 16-year-old Leslie Keiser’s fresh grave at the edge of Wolf Point, a small community on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation on the eastern Montana plains. Leslie, whose father is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, is one of at least two teenagers on …

Health Officials Fear Pandemic-Related Suicide Spike Among Native Youth Read More »

Montana’s Mask Mandate in Doubt With Incoming Governor

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. HELENA, Mont. — Incoming Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signaled he won’t continue a statewide mask mandate in place since July, though he said he plans to wear a mask himself and get vaccinated against COVID-19. If Gianforte, a Republican, reverses outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s mask …

Montana’s Mask Mandate in Doubt With Incoming Governor Read More »

As More Red States Legalize Marijuana, Some Officials Try to Nip It in the Bud

With his state reeling amid one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation, the last thing South Dakota Speaker of the House Steven Haugaard wants to be dealing with during the upcoming legislative session is marijuana. But the state’s voters haven’t left the Republican much choice. This fall, South Dakota became the first state …

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Trump’s Lame-Duck Status Leaves Governors to Wing It on COVID

Not long after the world learned that President Donald Trump had lost his reelection bid, states began issuing a new round of crackdowns and emergency declarations against the surging coronavirus. Taking action this time were Republican governors who had resisted doing so during the spring and summer. Now they face an increasingly out-of-control virus and …

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How Escalating COVID Cases Forced One State to Change Its Masking Strategy

In Montana’s conservative Flathead County, prosecutors and local leaders were turning a blind eye to businesses that flouted state mask and social distancing mandates, even as the area’s COVID infections climbed to their highest levels. When asked during an Oct. 7 press call from Montana’s capital city whether the state would step in, Gov. Steve …

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COVID Spikes Exacerbate Health Worker Shortages in Rocky Mountains, Great Plains

COVID-19 cases are surging in rural places across the Mountain States and Midwest, and when it hits health care workers, ready reinforcements aren’t easy to find. In Montana, pandemic-induced staffing shortages have shuttered a clinic in the state’s capital, led a northwestern regional hospital to ask employees exposed to COVID-19 to continue to work and …

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COVID Spikes Exacerbate Health Worker Shortages in Rocky Mountains, Great Plains

COVID-19 cases are surging in rural places across the Mountain States and Midwest, and when it hits health care workers, ready reinforcements aren’t easy to find. In Montana, pandemic-induced staffing shortages have shuttered a clinic in the state’s capital, led a northwestern regional hospital to ask employees exposed to COVID-19 to continue to work and …

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Despite Pandemic Threat, Gubernatorial Hopefuls Avoid COVID Nitty-Gritty

Just 15 days ahead of the election, Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney laid out his ideas on how he’d handle the COVID-19 pandemic if elected governor. Details were few, but the Democrat’s plan became one of only a handful being offered by candidates in the 11 U.S. governor’s races about how they’ll approach what’s certain …

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KHN on the Air This Week

KHN reporter Victoria Knight discussed this week’s vice presidential debate with Newsy’s “Morning Rush” on Thursday. Click here to watch Knight on Newsy Read “In Debate, Pence and Harris Offer Conflicting Views of Nation’s Reality,” by the staffs of KHN and PolitiFact KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner discussed Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on WFAE’s “Charlotte …

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Fighting for Patient Protections While Attacking ACA — Hard to Have It Both Ways

Throughout the 2020 election cycle, candidates’ positions on health care have been particularly important for voters with underlying and often expensive medical needs — in short, those with preexisting conditions. It’s no surprise, then, that protections for people who have chronic health problems like diabetes and cancer have become a focal point for candidates nationwide …

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Opposition to Obamacare Becomes Political Liability for GOP Incumbents

In the 2014 elections, Republicans rode a wave of anti-Affordable Care Act sentiment to pick up nine Senate seats, the largest gain for either party since 1980. Newly elected Republicans such as Cory Gardner in Colorado and Steve Daines in Montana had hammered their Democratic opponents over the health care law during the campaign and …

Opposition to Obamacare Becomes Political Liability for GOP Incumbents Read More »

COVID Plans Put to Test as Firefighters Crowd Camps for Peak Wildfire Season

HELENA, Mont. — Jon Paul was leery entering his first wildfire camp of the year late last month to fight three lightning-caused fires scorching parts of a Northern California forest that hadn’t burned in 40 years. The 54-year-old engine captain from southern Oregon knew from experience that these crowded, grimy camps can be breeding grounds …

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GOP Senate Ad Misrepresents Mont. Governor’s Stance on Rural Hospitals, Public Option

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. “Bullock’s health care plan will force rural hospitals to close. Medicare as we know it will change, replaced by …

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Pandemic’s Bumps and Backlash Shape Montana Race Poised to Steer US Senate

MISSOULA, Mont. — Bradshaw Sumners watched throughout February as COVID-19 hot spots developed in major American cities, waiting to see when the coronavirus pandemic would manifest in Montana. When it finally did, life for the Livingston resident and father of two changed dramatically. His daughters, 8 and 4 years old, were suddenly home from school. …

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States Search for Ways to Deal With COVID-19 Testing Backlogs

HELENA, Montana — States frustrated by private laboratories’ increasingly long turnarounds for COVID-19 test results are scrambling to find ways to salvage their testing programs. Montana said Wednesday that it is dropping Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest diagnostic testing companies. The Secaucus, New Jersey-based company had done all the state’s surveillance COVID-19 testing …

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Montana Rodeo Goes On, Bucking Fears on Fort Peck Reservation

WOLF POINT, Mont. — Cowboys lined the metal chutes that released bucking horses and their riders into the arena, Miss Rodeo Montana signed autographs for fans, and coronavirus warning signs ended with “Face mask usage is of personal choice.” More From The Mountain States View More Most of the rodeo riders and audience at the …

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