Bullock Warns Orders Will Be Extended
COVID-19 Cases In Montana Top 300
April 8, 2020
*Editor's Note: Since this story was written and published, Governor Steve Bullock extended his stay-at-home order through April 24.*
In a press call with reporters on April 3, Montana Governor Steve Bullock warned that public health orders, such as the statewide stay-at-home order, would be extended past their April 10 expiration date. The announcement came as the state was approaching 300 total reported COVID-19 cases and its sixth death.
“Note that the vast majority of directives we have put in place are set to expire next Friday, April 10th,” said Bullock to members of the press, adding, “while we haven’t done it yet, I do anticipate that we’ll be extending those orders.” He said the decision was being made in consultation with public health and others at state government.
“Right now, working together to fight this virus actually means staying largely separate,” said Bullock. He called staying home a “lifesaving act” that protects residents, first responders, health care workers and those at greater risk for negative outcomes. He touted social distancing efforts and pushed for young people to realize they were not unaffected by the virus and pointed out many positive cases in Gallatin County were young in age.
As of the morning of April 7, the state had reported 319 cases of COVID-19, mostly on the western and southern sides of the state with the notable exception of a case in Roosevelt County. There have been six deaths as a result of the virus in Montana. The state was also reporting 6,985 completed tests, 27 hospitalizations and 51 recovered cases.
Montana recorded their first in-state case on March 13 with four total cases appearing on the same day. Ever since, the state has added cases each day with the largest jump occurring on March 26 with 35 reported cases appearing on that day. The most recent number at press time from April 6, reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.
In addition to stressing measures to prevent the health disaster from spreading, Bullock touted efforts the state had taken to reduce the financial crisis many Montanans face as the pandemic control measure wreak havoc on the economy and jobless claims in the state.
Among those measures were policies that stopped evictions, foreclosures and utility cancelations during the duration of the pandemic. The order would prevent landlords from evicting tenants who do not pay rent as a result of the crises and would halt foreclosures. In a press conference earlier in the week, Bullock stressed that the order was not intended to give a pass on paying rent or mortgages and that those who can should pay their bills.
The directive also prevents the cancellation of utilities during the pandemic including electricity, gas, sewage disposal, water, telephone and internet services, and prohibits late fees for bills due during the directive.
“One of my top priorities is continuing to find ways to ease the financial hardships on Montanans. So long as this virus forces Montanans to stay home to save lives, Montanans need a home to stay in,” Governor Bullock said.
The governor also announced that he would be taking advantage of measures in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that allow him to expand food security programs to 100,000 Montanans. The measure will use federal assistance, increase food pantries and WIC accessibility and expand and expedite SNAP benefits in Montana.
Under that directive, the state will double its supply of food commodities from the federal government which will be provided at no cost to people in need of short-term hunger relief through food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, tribal partners, and senior centers. The program will extend federal food assistance to more than 100,000 Montanans, increase food supplies at emergency food pantries and food banks, and streamline nutrition assistance for new mothers and children.