HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte has ended the state of emergency in Montana he declared in January 2021 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The February 12 directive issued by Gianforte that amended the State of Emergency and removed the state's mask mandate can be found here.
“Months ago, the light at the end of the tunnel was distant and dim. As we’ve worked together to overcome this pandemic, the light has grown bigger and brighter. Today, we are out of the tunnel, and we are surrounded in light. Today, the conditions we face are nothing like what we faced 15 months ago, 12 months ago, or six months ago,” Gianforte said. “Today, the conditions we face no longer warrant a state of emergency.”
Citing Montanans’ resiliency amid the pandemic, Gianforte concluded his remarks, saying, “Montanans can be proud of the work they’ve done to overcome this pandemic and take care of themselves and each other. Working together, we have come through this stronger on the other side.”
Gianforte says his reasoning is due to the dramatic decline in new cases and hospitalizations in the last six months as well as Montana’s progress in administering vaccines.
According to data front the State of Montana, in January the state was seeing more than 560 daily cases for a seven-day average during the peak of the month. The state is now seeing just above 50 cases on a seven-day average.
Hospitalizations have also dropped significantly in the last six months, having more than 180 hospitalizations on a seven-day average on January 19. That number has since dropped to around 52 hospitalizations for a seven-day average.
However, Montana health care workers say the hospitalization rate has plateaued since April and is not decreasing at the same level as newly reported cases. Frontline workers have also expressed concern because newer hospitalizations are younger in age. The common factor is they were all unvaccinated.
To date, Montanans have administered over 860,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 425,000 Montanans fully immunized. That represents a little under half the state’s total population, about 46%.
Encouraging Montanans to choose to get the vaccine, the governor added, “The vaccines are safe, effective, free, and easy to get. They continue to be our best path forward.”
Montana has also launched a return-to-work bonus program under Gianforte’s direction. Return-to-work bonuses will be paid to unemployed individuals who rejoin the workforce and accept and maintain steady employment for at least one month. In May Montana’s unemployment was at around 3.6%.