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State to release analysis on who COVID-19 is hitting

Extra unemployment payments going out this week


Last updated 4/15/2020 at 11:44am

Gov. Steve Bullock said during a press conference call Tuesday a report on who has been impacted by COVID-19 will be released this week and that some extra payments from the stimulus bill, the CARES Act, will be going out soon.

He said the governor’s office will be releasing an interim analysis of COVID-19 cases in Montana, which was prepared by the epidemiologists of the Communicable Disease Bureau at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

“What the report did is analyze diagnose cases of COVID-19 in Montana through last Friday,” he said. “It sheds light a little bit on who this virus impacts, how it spreads and patients outcomes. I want to thank our public health officials across the state who have diligently investigated cases of COVID-19 and reported that information to our state epidemiologists. It’ll help the state make data-driven decisions to aggressively respond to COVID-19 in Montana.”

Since Montana’s first reports of four cases on March 14, Tuesday’s update had 399, he said.

He added that after the first 100 cases were reported the growth of COVID-19 had remained steady and had increased by about 100 cases every five days.

“Although, it’s too soon to tell if this slow growth will continue, the report offers early signs and measures to slow the spread including, social distancing and staying at home are indeed working,” Bullock said, “In the last two weeks, the laboratory processed an average of 370 specimens daily, reaching the positivity rate of 4.5 percent.”

An analysis of demographics shows, he said, that 20 to 29-year-olds make up 20 percent of the cases in Montana, 50 to 59 year-olds make up 17 percent.

He said the median age for all cases in Montana is 48 years of age, adding that half of the cases are between the age of  31 and 62, and that 50 percent of the cases are male and another 50 percent are female.

“Of 86 percent of known race, 94.4 percent of persons identified as white, 3.7 percent as Native American, other cases include identify as three-tenths of a percent as African American, four-tenths of one percent Asain, three-tenths of Hispanic, three-tenths of one percent Hawiian and six-thenths one percent other race,” Bullock said. “Native Americans are not disproportionnaly impacted by COVID-19 in Montana at this time.”

“We did get an early start in preparing and responding in Montana,” he added. “We are taking the right steps at the right time to slow the spread of the virus, staying at home now and doing social distancing will help us to take steps to reopen back up sooner rather than later to rebuild the thriving economy.

“Look, I want to reopen things, get back to normalcy as much as any Montanans in the state and I know that Monatanan’s are hurting, especially financially, but I also don’t want to put us in a worse position than we already find ourselves in trying to get ahold of this virus,” he said.

He said a healthy population has to be in place to have a healthy economy and that decisions will be made by the ongoing data and the science, not politics.

The current directive of extensions are in place till April 24.

“In the meantime, we will do everything that we can to provide economic stability to Montanans during this time,” Bullock said. “The Department of Labor began paying the additional $600 unemployment insurance benefit established with the passage of the CARES Act. Montanans using direct deposit should expect to see those funds within two to three days if not sooner. Claimants who receive checks should expect to see their benefits within the week.”

As of Tuesday, 32,000 benefits were being processed to the tune of about $20 million to go out to people in Montana in the upcoming days, he said. 

Monday, he sent out a directive to provide emergency rental assistance to help families with limited financial resources make ends meet during the unprecedented economic situation caused by COVID-19, he said.


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