Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte tests positive for COVID-19

greg gianforte
Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., walks through the Capitol on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive for COVID-19, according to local outlet KULR-8. The governor’s wife is reportedly awaiting test results, and the two are quarantining for 10 days, according to the report.

Gianforte, a Republican governor, had dropped Montana’s mask mandate on February 12, and he loosened restrictions on businesses in recent months.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

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Montana Sen. Steve Daines said his state used to have ‘homegrown’ meth, but now that it’s coming from Mexican cartels it’s more ‘pure’

steve daines
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

  • A group of GOP senators visited the southern border this week amid a surge in migrants.
  • During a news conference, Sen. Steve Daines said meth in his state used to be “homegrown.”
  • Now, he said, it is coming from Mexican cartels and is more pure, making it more dangerous.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines said during a press conference Friday that methamphetamine in the state used to be “homegrown,” but is now coming from Mexican cartels.

He was speaking from Texas during a trip to the southern border with fellow Republican senators amid the ongoing surge of migrants.

“Twenty years ago in Montana, meth was homemade. It was homegrown. And it had purity levels less than 30 percent,” Daines said.

“Today, the meth that is getting into Montana is Mexican cartel. It has purities north of 95 percent. Far more dangerous, far more addictive, and it’s less expensive because they’re producing so much of it and then shipping it into our country,” he continued.

Read more: The ultimate guide to US marijuana legalization: The key dates to know, and which stocks could benefit the most.

Daines had made similar comments earlier in the week to local outlet KTVQ ahead of the border trip. He has also said heroin and fentanyl from Mexico have flooded into Montana and that the surge of migrants prevents border patrol agents from focusing on drug traffickers.

Street-level meth in the US has become purer in recent decades, in part driven by drugs produced in labs in Mexico, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn hosted the trip, which included Sens. Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, and Chuck Grassley, among others. The group of 18 GOP senators visited locations in the Rio Grande Valley with Customs and Border Patrol agents.

During the news conference, they railed against President Joe Biden for the increase in migrants, blaming the president’s reversal of Trump-era immigration policies.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Democratic lawmakers made a separate border trip, during which blame was placed on former President Donald Trump.

The last major surge of migrants at the southern border was in 2019, with current border apprehensions approaching those levels. The secretary of Homeland Security said earlier this month that the US is on pace for a larger surge of migrants at the southwest border than it has seen in two decades.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Montana governor given warning after trapping and killing a Yellowstone wolf

greg gianforte
Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., speaks during the 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Washington.

  • Montana’s governor was given a warning after he killed a Yellowstone wolf outside the park last month.
  • Greg Gianforte had not completed a state-mandated certification course before trapping the wolf.
  • A spokesperson for the governor said he immediately rectified the mistake and signed up for the course.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte was let off with a warning for defying a state regulation before trapping and killing a Yellowstone wolf near the national park in February.

Gianforte trapped an adult black wolf approximately ten miles north of Yellowstone’s boundary on the private ranch of Robert Smith, director of the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group, who donated more than $10,000 to Gianforte’s 2017 congressional campaign, according to Boise State Public Radio.

Though wolves inside Yellowstone are protected from hunters, Montana law does allow for the trapping and hunting of wolves in other parts of the state, including those that wander out of the park’s boundaries.

But Gianforte harvested the wolf, known as “1155,” without having completed a state-mandated wolf trapping certification course, Boise State Public Radio reported.

“After learning he had not completed the wolf-trapping certification, Governor Gianforte immediately rectified the mistake and enrolled in the wolf-trapping certification course. The governor had all other proper licenses,” Gianforte’s spokesperson told The Hill.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks gave the governor a written warning and said Gianforte will be allowed to keep the wolf skull and hide after he enrolled in the three-hour online course scheduled for March 24, the outlet reported.

“Typically, we approach this sort of incident as an educational opportunity, particularly when the person in question is forthright in what happened and honest about the circumstances,” Greg Lemon, a spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told Boise Public Radio. “That was the case here with Gov. Gianforte.”

As governor, Gianforte is responsible for overseeing Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

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A Yellowstone wolf watches biologists after being tranquilized and fitted with a radio collar during wolf collaring operations in Yellowstone National Park. | Location: Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, United States.

Wolf “1155” was born in Yellowstone as part of the Wapiti Lake pack and had wandered north to find a mate, a park spokesperson told Boise Public Radio. Wildlife biologists were tracking the “dispersed male” through a radio collar, which allows scientists to note the movements and deaths of wolves that leave the park.

As of January 2020, there were at least 94 wolves in Yellowstone, according to National Park Services data. A park spokesman told Boise Public Radio this was the first Yellowstone-collared wolf to be killed by a hunter this year.

“People from all over the world come to Yellowstone specifically to see these wolves,” Jonathan Proctor, director of the Rockies and Plains program for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife told the outlet. “The fact that they can be killed so easily, right on the edge of the park in the state of Montana, for only a few dollars for a permit to trap a wolf – it makes no sense, either ecologically or economically.”

In recent months, Montana and other states in the West have seen fierce debate over the role trapping can play in managing increasing wolf populations nearly a decade after wolves lost Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies, Boise Public Radio reported.

This isn’t the first time Gianforte has found himself in trouble with the law. In 2017, the Republican governor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after body-slamming a reporter for The Guardian.

Insider reached out to Gianforte’s office and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for comment.

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Southwest Airlines has added new service to 2 hot vacation destinations ahead of the potential summer travel boom

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airline.

  • Southwest Airlines will begin offering new services to Florida and Montana.
  • This includes Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone airports.
  • Southwest has been drastically expanding its flight services since last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines will begin offering flights to Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in May ahead of the potential summer travel boom.

Travel, especially by air, dropped significantly in 2020 as COVID-19 first began taking its hold on the US. But now, the travel and hospitality industry is hoping that pent-up demand and the continuing vaccine rollout will lead to a big spike in travel this summer. 

As a result, companies are gearing up for this potential boom, including Southwest Airlines. In the last year, Southwest has dramatically expanded its flight offerings with new services to locations like Palm Springs, California, Cozumel, Mexico, and Miami.

Now, the airline has added additional flights to two travel hotspots: Florida and Bozeman, Montana.

Bozeman, Montana – known as “Boz Angeles” – has become a hot destination, especially for wealthier travelers looking to trade city life for a break in nature. Bozeman also been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and offers close access to hotspots like Yellowstone National Park. 

This will be Southwest Airline’s first destination in Montana. Flights to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport will take off from airports in Denver and Las Vegas starting at $40 beginning May 27.

On the opposite end of the climate spectrum, Florida has also emerged as a top travel destination during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its warm weather and more relaxed restrictions. Southwest already flies to 10 other airports in Florida but decided to expand its offerings in the state for “winter-weary families” looking to get away to warm destinations, Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in the press release.

Direct Southwest flights to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport can be taken starting May 6 from these four airports: Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington, Nashville, and Chicago Midway, the latter starting June 6. These flights will start at $70.

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Texas isn’t the only state lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s how 11 other states and cities are easing lockdowns, despite the CDC insisting that ‘now is not the time.’

greg abbot coronavirus vaccine texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas on Tuesday became the largest US state to ease its lockdown restrictions.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that would end all COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask mandate, on March 10.
  • Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan also made announcements to ease restrictions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Texas on Tuesday became the largest state in the US to lift its mask mandate.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order set to end all COVID-19 restrictions on March 10. He tweeted that “Texas is OPEN 100%,” and said “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday of a potential resurgence of coronavirus infections in the US, despite a dip in numbers of new cases nationally.

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, said. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Texas isn’t the only place in the US easing restrictions. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan, as well as Chicago and San Francisco, all made announcements to ease restrictions on Tuesday, though the details varied.

Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Mississippi have already waived mask-wearing restrictions, and Michigan has eased other lockdown restrictions. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have not enforced state-wide mask mandates throughout the pandemic.

In Florida and South Dakota, schools and businesses have been widely open for months.

More than 35 US states have kept their mask-wearing rules in place, albeit with variable enforcement.

Here is how some other states, as well as some cities, are easing their restrictions.

Chicago

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a University of Chicago initiative event for the science in Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 2020.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Chicago announced Tuesday that hospitality, sports, and performance venues could increase to 50% capacity, up from 40%. The maximum number of people is 50, or 20 people for indoor fitness classes. Curfews were also extended. The changes were effective as of Tuesday.

San Francisco

Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said Tuesday that indoor dining, indoor fitness, museums, and movie theaters would be allowed to reopen Wednesday at limited capacity.

Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said on Tuesday that starting Wednesday, businesses could operate at 75% capacity, except in indoor event halls, which were limited to 50% capacity at a maximum of 250 people.

Live music could also resume indoors. He said that the state’s mask mandate would continue, and the new rules would remain in place for at least 28 days, until March 31.

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced easing of restrictions on Tuesday, set to take effect on Friday.

Restaurants would be able to operate at 50% capacity – increased from 25% – and retail, entertainment, and sports facilities could open at increased capacity, she said. People can also visit a nursing home after a negative COVID-19 test.

Michigan has a state-wide mask-mandate, and Whitmer said mask-wearing, social distancing, and washing hands was “more important than ever.”

Mississippi

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

Mississippi rescinded a state-wide mask order in September, but Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi said Tuesday that county-specific mandates would be lifted too. He also said that the only COVID-19 restrictions that would remain were a 50% cap on the number of people in indoor arenas, and that certain restrictions would remain in schools.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina eased restrictions starting February 26, lifting a curfew and allowing indoor venues to operate at limited capacity. There is still a mask mandate.

Arkansas

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on February 26 lifted capacity limits for bars, restaurants, gyms, and large venues. He said that the state’s mask mandate would remain in place until March, provided the number of cases and hospitalizations were low.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said February 25 that restaurants could open at full capacity – albeit with social distancing and table size and time restrictions – starting Monday.

Other venues could open at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people allowed inside. A state-wide mask mandate is still in place.

Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee lifted restrictions for five counties in the state on February 14, and allowed restaurants to open up at 25% capacity.

Montana

Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana terminated the state’s mask mandate February 12.

Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa lifted restrictions February 5. Iowans no longer have to wear face coverings in public. Businesses can have as many people as they want inside and don’t have to abide social-distance guidelines.

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