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Bullock extends stay-at-home directive, announces new directives

Loosens requirements on local governments to obtain emergency funds


Last updated 4/7/2020 at 5:10pm

In a press conference call today Gov.Steve Bullock announced that he will be extending the stay-at-home directive to reduce exposure to novel coranavirus 2019 through April 24.

He also announced that the directives closing all non-residential public schools and restricting on-premise food and beverage businesses will be extended through the same date.

The directive establishing a mandatory quarantine for certain people arriving in Montana from another state or country, as well as the one suspending eviction, foreclosures, and the cancellation of utilities will be extended through that same date.

He said these directives are being extended in order to give health care facilities the time they need to obtain equipment they need before Montana reaches its peak of COVID-19 cases.

"For every person who stays at home the better our chances to fight this virus an protect our health care workers," Bullock said.

He recommended that everyone continue to follow social distancing guidelines, and that people start wearing cloth masks in public places like grocery stores and pharmacies. He added that members of the public shouldn't wear surgical masks or N95 and should instead give them to first responders and health care workers who need them more.

"We can and we must keep efforts up to flatten the curve," he said.

Bullock also announced two more directives. The first waives the requirement that county and local governments institute a two-mill emergency levee to gain access to new funding from the federal CARES Act.

"They shouldn't be forced to levee additional taxes on Montanans to access emergency funding passed by congress," Bullock said.

The second provides the necessary clarification that allows all first responders to be notified before they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

As of last night, the state has confirmed 319 =cases of COVID-19 in Montana, with 6 deaths, Bullock said, Of those patients, 57 have recovered.

“Today we anticipate our state lab will test in excessive of 400 Montanans,” he added.

Bullock said Montana has put in orders for and are waiting on orders of more than “1,000,000 and (medical N95) masks among other supplies from the private sector. He said he is hoping some of that supplies will arrive by the end of the week, but he is not counting on it until he sees that it has been received.

Bullock said despite the relatively low and sparse population of Montana the state has seen some of the challenges rural communities can face. He said the state was informed of a case in a long-term care center in Toole county on the evening of March 25. Local public health and their partners worked to find other possible cases and close contacts to prevent the further spread of the virus. Preventative protocols were put in place at the retired living facility and the local hospital. Toole County now has seen 20 cases associated with that event.

Bullock said an Incident command structure has been established in Glacier, Toole, and Pondera Counties to deal with the high rate of confirmation in Toole County.

Bob Sandman, a former forestry pioneer of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation who was also the head of a Type-1 firefighting crew, is acting as the local incident commander.

Watch for more in Wednesday's edition of the Havre Daily News,


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