Gov. Steve Bullock announced in Helena on Tuesday afternoon that several directives have now been extended to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
The "stay at home" order and public school closure orders are now in effect until April 24. The closures of bars, dine-in restaurants, casinos, and other nonessential businesses, and the suspension of evictions, foreclosures and the shutting off of utilities for nonpayment are also been extended. The directive requiring incoming travelers to Montana to enter into a 14-day self-quarantine will also now run until April 24.
The above directives had originally been slated to end on April 10, but last week Gov. Bullock indicated that those orders would likely be extended.
The governor also recommended Montanans wear cloth face masks when they're out in public places still open, such as grocery stores or pharmacies. Gov. Bullock said he believes these orders are working to "flatten the curve," which refers to the peak time when COVID-19 cases spike and potentially overwhelm hospitals.
Watch a video of the full press conference from April 7 below.
“We know that staying home will help to flatten the curve. For every person we take out of the chain of transmission of this virus, the more likely our health care facilities can handle the capacity to respond, and the more likely we can beat back this virus sooner rather than later,” Gov. Bullock said. “We stay at home to ensure that our health care workers and first responders have adequate time to receive the supplies to keep them, their patients, and their families safe. We stay home to protect Montanans in our rural communities and our rural health care workers who face long distances to access care.”
“We also stay home so that we can more quickly rebuild to a thriving economy. It is not a choice between a healthy population and a healthy economy -- the two go hand in hand. Managing this public health crisis now will help to prevent long-term consequences that could upend our economy for a longer duration and with a worse outcome,” continued Gov. Bullock.
The extension covers the stay at home order, school closures, on-premises dining and beverage operations, eviction and foreclosure suspensions and the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers coming into Montana for non-work-related travel.
Today’s Directive extends from April 10 through April 24 the following Directives:
- Closing all non-residential public schools in Montana. Previous Directive issued March 15 and previously extended through April 10.
- Closing certain on-premises dining and beverage businesses while expanding and encouraging delivery, takeout, and drive-up options. Previous Directive issued March 24.
- Extending the stay at home Directive except for certain essential activities, temporarily closing non-essential businesses, provided social distancing requirements, and limited non-essential travel. Previous Directive issued March 26.
- Limiting evictions, foreclosures, and disconnections for the duration of the Stay at Home Directive. Previous Directive issued March 30.
- Requiring a 14-day self-quarantine for individuals arriving in Montana for non-work-related travel. Previous Directive issued March 30, which followed Governor Bullock’s travel advisory on March 19.
Other Directives issued or actions taken in response to the statewide emergency do not need to be extended as they will stay in effect for the duration of the emergency or even longer. Those actions include: designating childcare facilities as essential businesses, bolstering food security for Montana families, expanding telemedicine services to Medicaid patients, issuing emergency rules to make unemployment benefits accessible to workers laid off due to COVID-19, emergency loans for small businesses through the Small Business Administration, and calling for the census deadline to be extended until at least September 30.
Click here to read the Directives issued on April 7.
State numbers showed a total of 319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montana as of Tuesday as well as six deaths (source/map). There have been three deaths in Toole County, and one each in Lincoln, Madison, and Missoula counties. Additionally, there have now been 28 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana, and 57 recovered patients. The DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 6,985 tests for COVID-19.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the Flathead City-County Health Department was reporting community spread of COVID-19. There are now a total of 31 cases in Flathead County, the third-most in Montana.