Bullock announces relief measures for Montanans during COVID-19 outbreak

5th COVID-19 death in Montana confirmed
Posted at 2:53 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 18:38:04-04

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock provided an update on the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Montana.

Gov. Bullock has announced new measures to provide relief to Montanans impacted by COVID-19 and ensure hospitals have financial stability to continue providing quality health care.

The governor issued an order Tuesday prohibiting evictions of tenants and prohibiting landlords from charging late fees on rentals for the extent of his stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Bullock emphasized that his order was "no free pass" for renters, and he urged those who could pay to do so.

“This isn’t a free pass on rent or on home debt,” Bullock said. “Tenants and home owners still need to meet their obligations, and should do so on time where they can. But as long as this virus forces Montanans to stay home to save lives, Montanans need a home to stay in.”

Essential utilities were also included in the governor’s directive. While most utility companies have already agreed, the order ensures that services cannot be shut off during the stay-at-home order for nonpayment.

It also prevents companies from imposing late fees.

“It’s a common-sense measure that reflects really how our communities have come together,” Bullock said. “Montanans need to know we’ve got their back.”

Bullock also noted the struggles faced by the state’s healthcare facilities, including hospitals. Most have postponed non-critical procedures, costing them revenue. And while they scramble for supplies, their costs have mounted. Rural hospitals have been hit particularly hard.

Under the new order, hospitals can now receive financing to stay open and acquire supplies under the Montana Facilities Finance Authority Act. The financing could help cover operating expenses connected to a hospital’s COVID-19 response.

“While the federal stimulus package or Cares Act will provide support for operating expenses, that funding will likely take time,” Bullock said. “Allowing for this financing will provide an immediate need for healthcare facilities to purchase supplies, pay staff and remain open.”

Bullock announced a stay-at-home order Montana last week, which extends through April 10.

The order closed certain businesses considered nonessential and advised people to only leave their homes to get food, go to work at essential businesses and care for loved ones.

Bullock has also indicated the stay-at-home directive could be extended.

Gov. Bullock also confirmed one more death from COVID-19, bringing the state's total to five. He also stated that 32 patients in Montana have recovered from the disease.

You can read the full directive here.

Watch Gov. Bullock's press conference below.

Gov. Bullock MT COVID-19 Update - March 31

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Bullock directed that travelers arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.

He said the directive applies both to Montana residents and non-residents entering the state for non-work-related purposes. It requires a self-quarantine for 14 days, or the duration of a non-work trip to Montana, whichever is shorter.

It also instructs the Montana Department of Commerce to advise vacation listing and rental sites that they must notify potential out-of-state renters about the quarantine requirement.

Health care workers are excluded from the directive.

In addition, the directive authorizes the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks at Montana airports and rail stations and screen for potential exposure history for travelers arriving in Montana from another state or country.

-information from the Missoula Current included in this report