By Tim Leeds 

Governor issues stay-at-home directive

 

March 27, 2020



Montana took one more step toward a lockdown due to coronavirus Thursday, the same day the first COVID-19 death was announced.

Gov. Steve Bullock late Thursday afternoon announced he was issuing a stay-at-home directive effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Thursday evening he announced the first death of a Montana COVID-19 patient.

“I’m heartbroken to learn of Montana’s first death due to COVID-19,” he said in a press release. “Especially during these times, Montana truly is one big small town – this news hits us hard, but we’re in this together. My family and I send our love and support to the family, friends and community of our fellow Montanan.”

The release said local county public health officials were in the process of contacting family members and no additional information would be provided at the time of the release.

The state’s COVID-19 tracking map, available online at http://bit.ly/MTCoronavirusMap, reported in its update at 8 this morning 108 confirmed cases in Montana, including one in Hill County. No cases were reported in Blaine, Chouteau or Liberty counties, although two were confirmed in Toole County and six in Cascade County.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report at noon Thursday reported 68,440 cases in all 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with 994 confirmed deaths.

World Health Organization reported this morning 465,915 confirmed cases in 200 countries, areas or territories, with 21,032 confirmed deaths.

Stay at home order

Bullock’s stay-at-home order Thursday goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and, for now, is in effect through April 10, the same date he set his extension of previous directives.

"We really are in this together and we can get ahead of it together," Bullock said in a press conference that started at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

He said he consulted with public health experts, health care providers and emergency management professionals before issuing his directive.

"I have determined that to protect public health and human safety it’s essential to the maximum extent possible that individuals stay at home or their place of residence," he said.

Bullock said this is an extension of what he has already directed.

"It's asking Montanans to use common sense," he said, and is asking people to do the same things the state has been asking them to do for the last two weeks.

Bullock said the first COVID-19 confirmations were on March 13, with 4 cases.

He said that with the growth of the number of cases in the state — he cited 90 Thursday afternoon and that had grown to 108 by this morning — the state needs to take action.

He said the Montana government can take steps to reduce the spread of the virus, as it did during the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918, when it closed schools and other public places across the state.

"These measures can save lives across the United States even now," he said.

Bullock said the state and its residents need to take steps to fight the virus and protect front-line health care workers and emergency responders.

"Staying home, if you can," he said. "No gathering. Staying six feet apart from others when you can. Planning ahead to limit your contact with others. These steps will slow the spread of the virus, and, ultimately, these steps will save lives."


He said other states are seeing hospitals overwhelmed and health care workers getting sick.

"I don't want that to become Montana," Bullock said. "It’s critical that we do everything we can to cut off the chain of transmission and also make sure as we flatten this curve to buy time for the health care workers on the front lines so they won't have to make what are almost impossible choices in the coming weeks."

He said the measures mean Montanans may leave their homes for essential activities including for health and safety, for necessary supplies and services, for certain types of work and to take care of others, and for outdoor activity as long as they comply with social distancing requirements.


He said his administration is following federal guidelines on what are essential services and essential employees and it will be detailed in the official directive.

Stay home except for essential business

Bullock’s stay-at-home directive, available online at the Montana http:covid19.mt.gov site, says people should stay at home unless they are engaging in activities

• For health and safety; for necessary supplies and services;

• For outdoor activity. provided that individuals comply with social distancing, and such as walking, hiking, running or biking;

• For certain types of work, providing essential products and services at essential businesses or operations or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in the directive, including minimum basic operations, and to take care of others;

Businesses in general, except for essential businesses, are ordered to send their employees home except for the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions and the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

All businesses are ordered to take measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.

Essential businesses and operations listed in the directive include:

• Stores that sell groceries and medicine;

• Good and beverage production and agriculture;

• Organizations that provide charitable and social services;

• Media including newspapers, television, radio and other media services;

• Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation;

• Financial and real estate services and institutions;

• Hardware and supply stores;

• Critical trades including building and construction, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff and others;

• Laundry services;

• Restaurants for consumption off-premises;

• Supplies to work from home and for essential businesses and operations;

• Transportation;

• Professional services such as legal services, accounting, real estate and insurance;

• Hotels and motels, and

• Funeral services.

The directive also lists essential travel that is allowed.

 

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