HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock held a Tuesday press conference to provide an update on Montana's efforts to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gov. Bullock’s directives closing public schools and requiring people to stay home -- except for essential activities -- were extended until April 24 last week.
The Montana Response COVID-19 tracking map showed there were 399 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning.
Gov. Bullock responded to the criticism from Republican leaders Tuesday afternoon during a news conference at the State Capitol.
He stood by his administration's directives saying he believed they were in line with the state constitution and with the best public health practices.
Gov. Bullock said the state will open schools and businesses when it is safe to do so, adding that the state has seen relatively slow growth in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
He argued that showed social distancing and other measures were having an effect, but that it was too early to say those measures should be relaxed.
“I know it's frustrating that we can't give a date certain when things will get to some degree of normal again,” Gov. Bullock added. “The decisions are going to be guided by the ongoing data and the science, not politics.”
Gov. Bullock's current directives, including a stay-at-home order and closure of public schools, were extended through April 24 and he said there won't be any changes before that time.
Watch the full press coference below.
The following directives issued by Gov. Bullock remain in effect through April 24:
- 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 Sept. 30.