The novel coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An estimated 100 to 200 nurses in Montana are tracing contacts of lab confirmed COVID-19 patients in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus.

An N95 respirator mask.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The precious N95 respirators protecting health care workers and first responders on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are getting an extended life thanks to a very specialized decontamination system that just arrived in Montana from the federal government.

An economic downturn of greater magnitude than that seen in 2008 recession could be felt in Montana in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a preliminary analysis from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

The report released Tuesday forecasts the Montana economy in 2020 could see employment drop 7.3 percent, a loss of more than 50,000 jobs.

It’s been six weeks since the coronavirus pandemic shifted Montana’s public school districts to remote and online learning, and some school counselors are struggling to check in with students. Counselors say the lack of daily face-to-face interactions may prevent some from getting the help they need.

COVID-19 test kit.

Blackfeet tribal leaders announced a second lab-confirmed case of the COVID-19 illness Saturday night.

Blackfeet COVID-19 Incident Command posted to Facebook that Blackfeet Community Hospital received the positive test and that the patient is quarantined and under surveillance.

Montana issued more than 45,000 unemployment payments totalling more than $45 million from Apr. 20 through Apr. 24.

Last week’s payments include an additional $600 from the recent federal coronavirus relief package.

Sewn masks made for donations throughout Gallatin County.
Jess Sheldahl / Yellowstone Public Radio

Public health officials say personal protective equipment like face coverings and masks are going to play an important role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus as Montana makes its first steps toward reopening.

Homemade masks made by volunteers and businesses across the state have lessened the strain on supply chains for the N95 respirator masks health care workers need.

Tonight on Campaign Beat: The health and political fallout of Gov. Steve Bullock's decision to reopen the state is widely debated. One Democratic candidate for governor is critical of the decision to allow schools to reopen. And Sen. Steve Daines has increasing visibility, both in new campaign ads and public appearances.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

University of Montana researchers are working on a vaccination for COVID-19. The Center for Translational Medicine received $2.5 million in funding for the project from the National Institutes of Health.

Montana will start lifting its stay-at-home order Sunday. This comes nearly a month after the restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

More than 440 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness have been reported in Montana, with 325 people now recovered from the virus. 14 people have died from the illness and 12 are currently hospitalized.