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Articles written by Chris Aadland

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  • State expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

    Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Mar 10, 2021

    Up to 140,000 more Montanans will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Monday thanks to an expansion of the state's current distribution phase. As Montana begins to receive more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the recently approved one-shot Johson & Johnson vaccine, Gov. Greg Gianforte said Tuesday he is expanding vaccine eligibility in Phase 1B to include Montanans over 60 years old and others over 16 years old with pre-existing conditions like liver disease and asthma that weren't...

  • Proposal to nullify local mask mandates advances

    Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Feb 24, 2021

    Lawmakers advanced a bill last week that would essentially nullify local health measures like mask mandates and prohibit local governments and health officials from adopting similar requirements in the future. In a preliminary vote following an approximately 30-minute House floor debate, lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 257, 66-34. The measure would prohibit local governments or health officials from compelling businesses, via health mandates, to turn away customers who don't comply with...

  • 2021 Legislature convenes in a crowded Capitol

    Mara Silvers and Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Jan 6, 2021

    HELENA - Members of the House and Senate kicked off the 2021 Legislature in person at the state Capitol on Monday, formally convening and electing leadership for what may be a turbulent 90-day session during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers took their oaths of office on the House and Senate floors, observed by crowded galleries of family members, friends and members of the public. Republicans in the Senate and House partially complied with mask guidelines that have been stressed by public... Full story


    Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Dec 2, 2020

    In Montana's largest county, Yellowstone, the public health officer said his workers are facing a backlog of more than 760 new COVID-19 cases waiting for contact tracing and case investigation. Nearly 300 miles away, Roosevelt County's public health officer says her office receives calls from people who have recently tested positive, but haven't yet been contacted by a public health worker. And in Lewis and Clark County, public health officials say they have scaled back their contract tracing...

  • Bullock announces new COVID restrictions

    Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Nov 25, 2020

    Gov. Steve Bullock has announced new public health orders, including limits on gathering sizes and restaurant and bar operations, in response to a continued surge of new COVID-19 infections in Montana. Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos in the state will be limited to operating at 50% capacity and must close by 10 p.m., Bullock said at a press conference last week. Table seating will be limited to six people, reduced from the current limit of 10, and establishments are still... Full story

  • Montana Legislature : How will the GOP spend its mandate?

    Chris Aadland and Eric Dietrich|Nov 11, 2020

    On November 3, Montana voters gave the GOP unified control of state government, electing a Republican to the governor's office for the first time in 16 years, Republican candidates to all statewide offices, and expanding GOP majorities in the state House and Senate. Even so, while at least one written policy agenda draft has been circulating in Republican circles, the party's legislative leaders say they're still working to define the priorities the party will bring to the Capitol when...

  • Bullock: masks now mandatory

    Chris Aadland, Montana Free Press|Jul 22, 2020

    HELENA - Gov. Steve Bullock last week announced he's requiring mask wearing for many Montanans to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases continues to surge and the state grapples with a new problem of limited testing capacity. Bullock acknowledged at a Wednesday press conference that efforts to convince Montanans to voluntarily wear cloth masks in indoor spaces - which health officials say reduces the chance of viral transmission from the wearer to others - have...