Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has set a goal for the state to conduct 60,000 COVID-19 tests per month, though sourcing the materials needed to conduct the test remains a challenge.

Bullock says starting next week the state will begin testing all willing residents and employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The governor says the state will also increase testing in tribal communities.

Some hospitals and medical facilities in Montana are beginning to again provide elective surgeries and procedures.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) started its phased-approach to providing in-person services Monday. KRH is starting with in-person medical services not requiring anesthesia at various locations.

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.

A sign reading "NorthWestern Energy" in silver type against a tan woodgrain background.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The commission that regulates energy utilities in Montana agreed to reconsider a pilot program that would allow the state’s largest utility to separate its revenue from its electricity sales.

The commission is also allowing time to figure out how the coronavirus pandemic might affect that mechanism.

A 2008 photo of construction on part of the the Keystone Pipeline.

A federal judge in Montana will hear an appeal from U.S. attorneys on his decision to block a federal pipeline permitting program.

Great Falls Federal Judge Brian Morris Tuesday granted the government’s request for an expedited appeal but kept in place a hold on projects using Nationwide Permit 12.

A Kalispell-based affordable housing nonprofit is expanding into neighboring Columbia Falls, where home prices are on the rise.

The Northwest Montana Community Land Trust owns about 54 properties in the Kalispell area. The trust says it maintains ownership of the land in order to sell homes to low-income families at an affordable price.

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.

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.