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Gov. Gianforte confirms eventual repeal of mask mandate

Gianforte COVID 19
Posted at 10:51 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 19:00:54-05

HELENA — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said during his first news conference since being sworn into office that he does plan to repeal the statewide mask mandate, but the change will not happen immediately.

Any changes will happen once clear and practical guidelines are in place and he has legislation on his desk that protects businesses, schools non-profits and places of worship who are following those guidelines from lawsuits and vaccine distribution have widely been expanded to vulnerable populations.

“I choose to wear a mask and encourage others to do the same,” Gov. Gianforte said.

The governor said that he wants to see additional COVID-19 vaccinations and is looking to move away from directives to incentives. Vaccination plans for Montana are being revised by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and will take effect immediately.

Under Gov. Gianforte’s plan, the vaccine distribution plan is to be expanded to cover all Montanans who are 70 years of age or older. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines will be provided to residents between the ages of 16 and 69 who have specific underlying health conditions.

"We need to provide the vaccine to those that want it. We cannot have vaccines sitting on a shelf. That’s why I have tasked DPHHS and General Quinn to begin the process of revising the vaccine distribution plan to prioritize the most vulnerable,” Gov. Gianforte said. “I have directed the team to make this change effective immediately."

Gov. Gianforte says that Montana has received 36,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and additional 41,000 first doses are expected. The governor also noted that 23,000 Montanans have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday.

Watch the full news conference below:

Gov. Gianforte provides COVID-19 update for Montana

(first report)

Gov. Greg Gianforte is holding a press conference Tuesday, his first since officially taking office during a swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

According to a press release, Gianforte will provide an update on COVID-19. Gen. Matt Quin, executive director of the governor's COVID-19 Task Force, will also attend the press conference.

Watch the press conference live here once it begins. You can also watch the news conference on the KPAX Facebook page.