Hospitals across Montana are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients as the Delta variant spreads across Big Sky Country.
Montana's Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, signed the nation's only ban on employers requiring vaccination for employees. This has prevented even nursing homes and medical facilities from requiring vaccination, which resulted in a new lawsuit led by the Montana Medical Association.
On Friday, Gianforte successfully got the Veterans Administration to open 6 beds at its Fort Harrison hospital. But with 416 Montanans hospitalized, that will do little to ease the strain on the system.
Also on Friday, Gianforte announced that he was deploying the National Guard to four more hospitals. Gianforte had already approved deployments to Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula. Troops will now also deploy to Kalispell, Livingston, Plains and Whitefish.
While Gianforte has taken measures to deal with the impact of the surge, he has not yet taken measures to slow the spread.
The law he signed, which banned long-term care facilities from requiring staff to get vaccinated, may have been fatal in one Montana town.
"Ten residents of Libby Care Center in Lincoln County died in August as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak that started at the end of July," KPAX-TV reported. "The company believes the virus got into the facility through an unvaccinated Certified Nursing Assistant."
Nine of the ten residents who died were reportedly vaccinated.
Cascadia Healthcare told the station only 54% of staff are vaccinated, even though they work in a long-term care facility.
National Guard will be helping four more Montana hospitals -- Livingston, Kalispell, Whitefish and Plains. This com… https://t.co/R0KA9LFOES— Mackenzie Quinn - NBC Montana (@Mackenzie Quinn - NBC Montana) 1632517653.0