Governor Steve Bullock announced Tuesday directives aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 have been extended two weeks until April 24.
These orders include a stay-at-home order , the closure of schools , 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. He also extended the order requiring incoming travelers to Montana to enter into a 14-day self-quarantine.
The orders were previously set to expire on April 10.
“For every person we take out of the chain of transmission, the more likely our healthcare facilities can handle the capacity to respond,” said Gov. Steve Bullock, D-Montana.
Bullock recommended Montanans wear cloth face masks when they're out in public places where social distancing guidelines are harder to follow, such as grocery stores or pharmacies.
“Please use cloth face coverings and not surgical masks or N95 masks that are really needed by our health care workers and first responders,” said Bullock.
A measure was also announced that will allow first responders to be notified in advance of potential exposure to COVID-19, such as if the patient is having breathing difficulty.
The responders can then take appropriate measures to safely perform their duties and avoid exposing other patients to the virus.
As of Apr. 7, 2020, half the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Montana have happened in Toole County.
The first case in the county was found at a long term care facility in Shelby on March 25.
The State has partnered with local agencies to create an incident command structure to address the needs of the area, including providing personnel and resources.
“Everything from staffing support from Kalispell Regional Hospital to a number of Montana Air National Guard airmen serving as well,” explained Bullock.
As of Tuesday, the United States has seen more than 396,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 12,000 deaths related to the virus.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday on Fox News, “the next week is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
Bullock told members of the press Tuesday, it’s already been painful for Montana.
“Knowing that we’ve lost six Montanans, it’s been a tragic time already,” said Bullock. “We are doing everything we can to prepare not for just this week, but for next week and the week after. Any loss of life is certainly tragic and I think Montana is a state where, though we may not have hundreds [of deaths], but every Montanan feels something when we report another loss of life.”