HELENA — Montana governor Greg Gianforte conducted a press conference Thursday to he gave an update on on the COVID-19 pandemic in Montana. Gianforte says the outlook of COVID cases in Montana looks very promising right now, noting the average daily COVID case count being under 200 new daily cases for the first time since September.
The governor credited the trend in part to successful vaccination efforts in the state by dedicated health care workers, state employees and volunteers. “Yesterday, data from the CDC showed that Montana had used more than 93 percent of the doses we’ve received, the best rate in the country,” said Gianforte. “This didn’t happen by accident. This is the product of hard work of General Quinn, the staff at DPHHS, public health officials, doctors, nursues, volunteers, and many more.”
Gianforte says there are still many more Montanans that are in need of vaccine doses while the state works on getting back to normal, and again called on the federal government to send more doses to Montana.
Montana has recently joined the federal pharmacy vaccine program which has provided more than 3,000 vaccine doses to pharmacies in 21 counties.
The state is also looking forward to the possibility of having a third vaccine available in the coming weeks, the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine. As of February 25, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is still awaiting emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
State COVID-19 Task Force director Gen. Mathew Quinn said at this time they are unsure of when they might receive doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but are currently estimating it around 1,000 to 1,500 doses being allocated to Montana.
“Every Tuesday the CDC comes out and says, ‘Montana this is the quantity that you can order.’ Johnson and Johnson was not included in that order quantity this week. We have an expectation of about a million doses we understand will be released by Johnson and Johnson the week that they do finally come out. So we’ll see a prorated share of that,” said Quinn.
Gianforte also addressed the economic impacts the State has faced from the pandemic, and said legislation working its way through both chambers that was supported by his administration will help the state recover.
“Just yesterday the Senate passed two of our signature ‘Montana Comeback’ bills,” said Gianforte.
The Montana Senate passed “Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act” which would provide financial incentives for companies to start and grow in the state, and the “Competes Act” which cuts the state’s top marginal income-tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6.75 percent.
“The Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act and the Competes Act will make Montana more competitive and bring good paying jobs to our state,” said Gianforte.