Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT) says he is planning on doing away with Montana's mask mandate (it's really a directive, and not a mandate) in "weeks, not months." But he says he wants to get a liability protection measure signed into law prior to lifting the directive.

We'll get to that effort in a moment, but first- it's worth asking the honest question: do mask mandates even work in the first place?

The Heritage Foundation has compiled some new data showing that 97 out of 100 counties with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US also had mask mandates. Here's their synopsis:

The authors of this Backgrounder found that 97 of the 100 counties with the most confirmed cases had mask mandates. Nor did a national mask mandate prevent a surge in Italy. These findings do not deny the efficacy of mask-wearing, nor should they discourage the practice. Instead, they point to the inadequacy of public health strategies that rely too heavily on lockdowns and mask mandates.

Click here to read the full piece from The Heritage Foundation.

Even though the data shows that mask mandates don't work, we still technically have a statewide mask directive in effect here in Montana. Governor Gianforte says he wants a COVID liability protection bill signed into law, and more distribution of the vaccine, before he will lift the directive.

A COVID liability protection bill is already moving through the legislature in Helena. Todd O'Hair, the president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, is backing Senate Bill 65. The bill also has the backing of the governor, according to O'Hair.

In a guest opinion for The Flathead Beacon, O'Hair writes, in part:

This bill protects businesses from litigation if a customer claims to have contracted COVID-19 in their business. It protects responsible organizations making appropriate safeguards, following CDC protocols for social distancing, sanitization, and wearing face masks.

We'll be talking with lawmakers and others about this legislation on the radio in the days ahead.