Many parents of public school students across the state are struggling with reduced pay or unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic. School officials say that’s contributing to a spike in demand for free meals from school districts. In order to provide some relief, the federal government and the state are allowing more districts to use a program that nomally provides free meals to children in the summer.

Interior of the Red Lodge Brewing Company taproom.
Megan Kalb-Koenigsfeld / Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company

While restaurants, tap rooms and bars in Montana are allowed to provide take out and delivery service during the governor’s stay-at-home order, many business owners say they’re making a fraction of their normal sales.

The front exterior of the Gallatin County Detention Center
Gallatin County website / Gallatin County

An inmate at the Gallatin County Detention Center in Bozeman tested positive for COVID-19 on Apr. 4. He has been released in coordination with the local health department.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock extended the state’s stay-at-home directive for today until April 24. But that’s no easy ask for people with nowhere to isolate. Nick Mott reports on what the pandemic means for people experiencing homelessness in Montana.

Official seal for the Montana Public Service Commission
Montana Public Service Commission / Montana Public Service Commission

The commission that regulates energy in Montana shot down a proposal on Apr. 7 to sponsor a forum that would have discussed climate change as a man-made phenomenon.

The UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research asked Montana tourism businesses about their bookings between March 13 and March 26, 2020.
UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

Over 90 percent of travel related businesses in Montana have been impacted by COVID-19 through cancellations and a sharp decline in bookings, according to a biweekly survey by the University of Montana.

Twice as many businesses responding to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s second survey at the end of March reported cancellations compared to two weeks prior.

The beef aisle of Costco in Bozeman.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

Shoppers may have noticed higher beef prices and empty shelves at the grocery store last month. At the same time cattle producers saw a significant drop in what they were getting paid. Panic buying, allegations of price-fixing and uncertainty in the face of a global economic fallout have all been effecting the cattle industry.

Montana is edging closer to the spring runoff season. Scientists now have a better idea of what our mountain snowpack will yield this spring and summer.

Gov. Steve Bullock is extending Montana’s stay-at-home order for at least another two weeks, until April 24.

Bullock announced the move to continue the state’s largest social distancing orders in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Montana schools are asking Gov. Steve Bullock to waive requirements under a new state cyber security law aimed at protecting student information as teachers scramble to move classes online.

School districts say they need more flexibility to move classes online amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and that they’re currently limited by the 2019 Montana Pupil Online Personal Information Protection Act.