Bullock extends stay home, school closures, dining-in directives through April 24

Gov. Steve Bullock has extended his directives to stay home, close public schools, restrict dine-in establishments, self-quarantine for inbound travelers for non-work purposes, preventing evictions and utility suspension for nonpayment, and others through April 24.

He said during an April 7 press briefing that so far, an estimated 57 patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Montana but that he doesn’t believe the state has yet hit its peak of cases.

Bullock said staying home will help flatten the curve and improve the changes of fighting the virus.

April 3 update: Bullock expects to extend directives to stay home, close schools, restrict eateries to April 24; airport screenings begin in Great Falls; city suspends multi-animal permit inspections

Some of the steps may seem extreme, Bullock said, and perhaps too cautious in a state like Montana where there are fewer cases.

He’s encouraging people to wear a fabric face mask or covering when in public settings where it’s difficult to maintain six feet between people.

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But, Bullock said the masks aren’t a replacement for social distancing or washing your hands.

The state is continuing efforts to get medical supplies to healthcare providers. Bullock said that two-thirds of hospitals surveyed in Montana reported that orders for supplies had been canceled.

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Bullock said that the state has received five times more N95 masks from North Dakota than from federal agencies. He said the state is waiting on an order of one million N95 masks that he hopes arrive by the end of the week, but he’s not counting on it until they arrive.

Bullock said that though he’s extending other directives that impact the economy, managing the public health crisis quicker could prevent longer-term impact on local economies.

It’s an “extremely challenging time for small businesses,” Bullock said.

From March 29 through April 5, Bullock said the state had made 24,000 unemployment payments and that from March 16 through April 5, there were about 56,000 unemployment claims.

Bullock activated the National Guard to perform temperature checks at major airports and train stations and so far, those Guardsmen had checked 1,201 people. Six of those were referred to healthcare providers, but none tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently, there are 88 activated Guardsmen at airports and rail stations, Bullock said.

Bullock also issued a directive waiving the current requirement that local and county governments implement a 2 mill emergency levy in order to access new funding coming to the state through the federal Coronvirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Local and county governments are integral to the response to COVID-19,” Bullock said. “Montana taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay a penalty to allow local and county governments to receive the aid passed by Congress to respond to the unprecedented economic situation caused by COVID-19.”

Bullock’s directive also waives the current statutory requirement that requires local and county governments to use all available emergency levies before they are able to access state emergency or disaster funding.


Total cases in Montana

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services there are now 319 cases of COVID-19 across the state. One of those cases is counted in Montana though the woman was tested and remains in Maryland.

There have been six deaths from the virus, according to DPHHS.

So far, according to DPHHS, a total of 6,985 tests have been completed as of April 7.

state tracking map shows the confirmed cases are as follows by county:

  • Cascade County: 11 cases
  • Gallatin County: 119 cases
  • Yellowstone County: 47 cases
  • Flathead County: 31 cases
  • Missoula County: 24 cases
  • Lewis and Clark County: 15 cases
  • Toole County: 15 cases
  • Silver Bow County: 11 cases
  • Madison County: 8 cases
  • Lincoln County: 7 cases
  • Park County: 6 cases
  • Lake County: 5 cases
  • Broadwater County: 4 cases
  • Deer Lodge County: 3 cases
  • Jefferson County: 2 cases
  • Ravalli County: 2 case
  • Roosevelt County: 1 case
  • Hill County: 1 case
  • Meagher County: 1 case
  • Liberty County: 1 case
  • Musselshell County: 1 case
  • Carbon County: 1 case
  • Glacier County: 1 case