HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte said on Wednesday that he will let Montana’s state-wide mask mandate expire as of Friday, February 12th.
He made the announcement at a bill-signing ceremony for Senate Bill 65. Gianforte had previously said the bill was a necessary first step before he’d consider lifting the mandate.
The new law limits when businesses, healthcare providers, and other organizations can be sued over a potential exposure to COVID-19. It also allows those groups to claim a defense if they took “reasonable measures” based on public health guidance about COVID.
Gianforte said he wanted to wait to lift the mask mandate until more vulnerable Montanans had received a vaccine, and they now have. He also pointed to the continued drop in active COVID cases statewide. “As I’ve said, we will continue to provide incentives to protect the health and safety of Montanans, and we will emphasize personal responsibility over mandates,” he said. Click here to read the full text of the law (PDF).
Gianforte said he will release a new directive on Friday morning to formally implement the change. He said county and municipal jurisdictions may choose to continue their own mask mandates.
There were 276 new COVID-19 cases reported in Montana on Wednesday, and the statewide death toll since the pandemic began has reached 1,336, according to data compiled by MTN News during the previous 24 hours.There are currently 108 people hospitalized for treatment of the virus, and the cumulative number of hospitalizations is 4,400.
The number of Montanans who have received at least one of the two vaccine shots is 149,263, and the number of Montanans who have received both shots and are now fully vaccinated is 41,539.
The number of active cases in the state is currently 2,993 according to MTN News, and there has been a cumulative total of 96,875 cases of the virus in Montana. Of the total cases, 92,546 have recovered. The number of tests performed in the state has reached 1,001,074, an increase of 3,795 from the previous 24-hour reporting period.
The counties with the most deaths are:
- Big Horn: 68
- Blaine: 24
- Cascade: 149
- Dawson: 28
- Flathead: 74
- Gallatin: 51
- Glacier: 37
- Hill: 40
- Lake: 26
- Lewis & Clark: 63
- Missoula: 82
- Ravalli: 28
- Roosevelt: 54
- Rosebud: 44
- Butte-Silver Bow: 78
- Yellowstone: 228
VACCINES: The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services recently launched a new feature on the state COVID website to report the number of vaccinations administered; the data is presented for each of Montana's 56 counties.
DATA SOURCES: The numbers reported above reflect the latest data from the official Montana COVID website as well as updated information from county health departments. MTN News uses 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. Visit the state site for county-specific data.
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.