Opening his press conference in Helena on Friday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte had scathing words for officials in Washington. D.C. who sent National Guard troops out of federal buildings and into unheated parking garages, leading him to order Montana’s troops home immediately.

“Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to leave the Capitol building and were sent outside into parking garages to rest,” said Gianforte. “Some had no heat or access to facilities. This is no way to treat the men and women in uniform. What happened to them was a national disgrace. Thousands of guardsmen answered the call of duty to protect our Republic, and they will have been pulling security duty for two weeks to support a peaceful transfer of power, and this is how they were treated. It's outrageous. That's why very early this morning I instructed General Hronek to bring them home.”

Public Information Officer Major Dan Bushnell told KGVO News that it could take from 24 hours to a week to get the Montana National Guard troops home.

Shifting gears, Gianforte had high praise for the state’s efforts against the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Our response to the pandemic is yielding positive results,” he said. “Our trend lines continue to be promising. We've gone from nearly 850 new cases per day, about two weeks ago to under 400. Today, we've gone from 208 active hospitalizations about two weeks ago to 138. Today, none of our hospitals are at or above capacity.”

Gianforte also praised the progress of vaccinations.

“As of this morning, Montanans have been administered nearly 73,000 doses of vaccine and nearly 14,000 are fully immunized,” he said. “Our health care professionals have done an outstanding job getting Montanans vaccinated. I want to thank them for their dedication and efforts. By the end of the month nearly all residents and staff at nursing homes and long term care facilities will have received their first vaccine and will be scheduled for a second.”

Responding to a reporter’s question about honoring President Biden’s mask mandate on all federal lands, Gianforte responded.

“Why you need a mask on a national forest is incomprehensible to me,” he said. “It is the definition of social separation. I think it shows a lack of understanding of our way of life, and we'll be communicating with the Biden administration that we don't think it makes any sense.”

Also at the press conference was Major General Matthew Quinn, Executive Director of the Governor’s COVID 19 Task Force.

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