HELENA — Governor Steve Bullock on Thursday said Covid-19 infections are reaching crisis levels in the state and again urged Montanan to follow public-health guidelines, such as wearing face masks and avoiding social gatherings.
But he said he won’t impose more statewide restrictions on businesses and gatherings, because without more federal aid from Congress, it would only increase more economic hardship.
“I have grave concerns … about sending tens of thousands of Montanans into the unemployment line without any enhanced unemployment benefits,” he said. “How will those Montanans keep the heat on in these winter months and keep their families fed?”
Bullock and state Medical Officer Greg Holzman said with hospitals reaching capacity and public-health departments unable to keep up with contract tracing connected with the surge of new cases, Montanans follow health guidelines to stop the spread of the virus.
“Please stop the arguing about what one does not want to do, and ask yourself, `What can I do?’” Holzman said at a news conference. “What can we do, to help protect our communities and decrease the stress and burden on all of our front-line workers?”
The state reported 962 new Covid-19 cases Thursday and had 10,000 new cases in the 11 days ending last Sunday.
Bullock noted that it took six months to accumulate the first 10,000 cases in the state, which is now over 43,000 reported cases, including almost 18,000 active ones. He said 20,000 additional Montanans became infected during the month of October. If each case had four close contacts, that means 100,000 Montanans were advised to be quarantined for two weeks, away from school, jobs and health-care jobs that the state can’t afford to lose, Bullock said.
“Today I’m asking Montanans to do everything you can to make this winter a lot less challenging and a lot less dark,” the governor said. “I ask Montanans certainly to do this not for me, but for the many who are working in our crowded hospitals … or that a business can stay safely open … and for the thousands of kids who rely on their schools for more than an education.”
Holzman also said while the state is preparing to distribute a vaccine when it becomes available, that’s not likely to happen this winter, on any sort of widespread basis. “We need to be very clear and respond now, or some of the darkest days may be before us,” he said. “We cannot sit around and wait for a vaccine.”
Bullock, who last week lost his bid to win a U.S. Senate seat, has about seven weeks remaining in his final term as governor. He said he’d be working “until my last day” to prevent additional deaths from Covid-19 and that he’s offered help to and been in communication with the transition team of Republican Governor-elect Greg Gianforte. But he declined to say what he hoped Gianforte would do, saying it’s “premature” and that he wanted to give the new administration a chance to become familiar with the state responses.
There were 962 new cases and no new deaths added to the total on the Montana COVID-19 tracking site on Thursday morning; the data below is from the official Montana website on November 12:
- HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 499 current hospitalizations, and a cumulative total of 1,541 hospitalizations.
- DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths in Montana is 472.
- ACTIVE CASES: There are 17,755 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
- CASES & RECOVERIES: There have been 43,031 cumulative cases, with 24,804 people listed as recovered.
- TESTING: There were 10,223 completed tests, for a cumulative state-wide total of 557,951.
CONTEXT: Not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others do require hospitalization, as noted in the daily update on the number of people hospitalized. However, every person who tests positive for COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to other people, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public. The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released data in late August which emphasizes that people with contributing or chronic medical conditions are at much greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Click here to read more.
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