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Vaccine rollout a point of unity for Montana

| February 28, 2021 12:00 AM

America paused last week to honor the 500,000 plus individuals who have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the last year. And while “covid fatigue” is apparent from coast to coast, it’s important that this solemn milestone isn’t chalked up as just another notch on a line graph.

Each and every one of those 500,000 people represents a loved one lost, a mother or father, a friend or neighbor — including more than 1,300 Montanans.

Let us not diminish the unimaginable toll this pandemic has had on our fellow Americans, even if it hasn’t directly impacted your inner circle. The magnitude of the pandemic is real, and for many families, everlasting.

Thankfully, there is now tangible evidence that we are finally making headway on defeating this disease.

More than 50 million doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered across the nation — the halfway point to the Biden administration’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.

Montana, in particular, is rising to the occasion in the effort to get shots in arms as quickly as possible. According to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office, federal data shows that Montana is the most efficient state in the nation for administering doses. The data shows that 93% of doses distributed to the state have been used, compared to the national average of 79%.

Montana’s efficiency in shot distribution is clearly evident at the Flathead vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds. Parking is easy and the wait times are minimal, and we’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about the staff and volunteers who are overseeing this well-organized operation.

As of Friday, 4,806 individuals in Flathead County had been fully immunized, and more doses are on the way.

Gianforte and all three members of the state’s congressional delegation had asked the Biden administration to divert more federal doses to the state, as Montana was receiving one of the lowest per capita allocations of vaccines in the U.S.

Those calls were heard, and on Friday Sen. Jon Tester’s office announced that this week Montana will receive another shipment of 23,270 doses.

“This is great news for folks in every corner of Montana — more vaccines means we’re that much closer to reopening our economy and getting folks back to work,” Tester touted.

We’re glad to see our state leaders working across the aisle to do what's right for Montana. In fact, the vaccine rollout has proven to be a real point of unity and pride for the state.

Montanans know a thing or two about rolling up our sleeves and doing what it takes to get a job done. Let’s keep at it, and before long we’ll have the worst of this virus behind us.