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By Tim Leeds 

Governor issues new directives, COVID case confirmed in Liberty County


Last updated 4/1/2020 at 11:28am

Gov. Steve Bullock issued new directives Tuesday on the COVID-19 pandemic including to protect renters and homeowners forced to stay at home, help medical facilities stay open and deal with the disease and to help find people who may have been exposed, as the disease slowly continues to spread across north-central Montana.

The state COVID-19 tracking map showed a confirmed case of the illness in Liberty County this morning.

That case joins one in Hill County and six in Toole County.

Chouteau and Blaine counties still had no confirmed cases, the map, updated at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and available online at http://bit.ly/MTCoronavirusMap , reported this morning.

The governor already issued statewide directives, last Thursday, ordering non-essential businesses to close and people to stay at home, aside from outdoors recreation, as much as possible.

From the start of the pandemic — Bullock issued a state of emergency for Montana March 12 — people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, typically fever, body aches and dry coughs, to self-quarantine for 14 days.

People also are asked to self-quarantine if they believe they have been exposed to the virus or have been to an area where it is confirmed.

Bullock’s directive Tuesday ordered people who coming into Montana, both residents and visitors, from out-of-state to self-quarantine for 14 days.

It also authorized National Guard members to screen people in major airports and rail stations coming into Montana for their temperature and for potential history of contact.

People who are experiencing symptoms are told to treat the symptoms with cold and fever medicine, drink plenty of fluids and to contact health care professionals immediately if the symptoms worsen.

Governor issues

new directives

Bullock said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the new directives that Montanans are taking needed steps during the crisis.

“As Montanans take seriously the responsibility to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, they shouldn’t also have to worry about whether they can keep a roof over their heads or if they will have running water,” he said. “They shouldnt have to be worried about having the heat turned off if they can’t pay the rent or make their monthly utiltiy bill.”

Bullock’s directive Tuesday prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent during his stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and prohibited residential foreclosures on home owners who miss payments due to the stay-at-home order.

“This is not a free pass on rent or home debt,” Bullock said Tuesday during a press conference on the directives. “Tenants and home owners still need to meet their obligations and should do so on time if they can.”

The directive also applies to major utilities shutting off services due to nonpayment resulting from the stay-at-home order and prohibits late fees and charges due to late or missed payments due to the stay-at-home order.

“While we’re asking Montanans to stay home to stop the spread of this virus, Montanans need to know that we’ve got their back,” he said.

Bullock said his directive requires what many in the state already had been doing.

“Montanans and Montana businesses take care of one another,” he said. “So many Montana businesses have already stepped up on this front and I want to especially commend them and their work and their dedication to all of our communities.”

He said the fifth COVID-19 death confirmed in Montana impacts everyone because Montana really is a very large in area small community.

But people also see the good things people are doing during the crisis, he said.

“Thats the other thing about Montana being one big commmunity,” he said. “We really are in this together.”

He said the directive also allows Montana hospitals and health facilities to receive funding through Montana Facility Financing Act for operating expenses connected to COVID-19.

Bullock said the federal stimulus package, the CARES Act that passed last week, provide support for medical facilities’ operating expenses, but that will probably take time.

Allowing the state financing will allow facilities to meet an immediate need to purchase supplies, pay staff and remain open, he said.

“For weeks, both rural and urban hospitals have served on the front lines of this crisis and they need our support to continue protecting Montanans,” he said

Bullock said he also authorized the National Guard at major airports and railway stations to do temperature checks and screen for potential history of contact with novel coronavirus 2019 that causes COVID-19 of travelers coming into the state.

He noted that Monday he issued a directive ordering travelers coming into Montana, both residential and nonresidential, to go into a 14-day quarantine to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He said the state Department of Commerce has been directed to notify all rentals, bed-and-breakfasts and any business that provides lodging to visitors coming into the state that the 14-day quarantine will be required.


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