$25M for biz fund; Bullock comments on COVID uptick

Sam Klomhaus — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, June 5, 2020
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Steve Bullock

At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Steve Bullock said Montana is adding an additional $25 million to the business stabilization fund, bringing the total to $75 million.

The state is also adding $250,000 to the agriculture adaptability grant program, Bullock said, and introducing a grant program for small and medium-sized meat processors, called the Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant. That program will distribute a maximum of $250,000 per processor, $2 million max, Bullock said.

Bullock also commented on the uptick in cases reported Thursday in Gallatin County. Bullock said it appears many of the eight cases are associated with one another in Gallatin County, while a handful have no apparent cause as of yet, but investigations are ongoing.

The increase in confirmed cases this week in Gallatin, Big Horn and Yellowstone Counties is a result of increased testing, including of asymptomatic people, Bullock said.

“As we amp up testing more and more, we could see more (positive cases),” Bullock said.

The state is working on testing more at assisted living facilities and Native American reservations, Bullock said, as well as in tourist communities, including Livingston and Gardiner. particularly for frontline workers.

Yellowstone National Park said Thursday in a press release 43 non-symptomatic park employees were tested for COVID-19, and all came back negative.

The surveillance testing will continue throughout the summer, the release said, and approximately 100 tests will be administered in the park this week.

“This is the most aggressive employee surveillance testing being conducted in the National Park System,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said in the release. “We couldn’t do this without our partners in the states and counties. Our goal is to detect positive COVID-19 cases as early as possible, so we can isolate and support those employees, while reducing chances of spreading the virus. Information gained from this program will inform management decisions.”

Testing is available for people who have even one COVID symptom, Bullock said, and he encourages anyone who is concerned to get tested.

Montana reported two confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday, bringing the state’s total to 541, with 53 currently active. According to the state, there have been 18 reported coronavirus deaths in Montana.

The 18th death was reported Friday morning in Big Horn County.

Park County has reported eight total cases, all of which have recovered.

“This virus is with us, and will be with us for a long time,” Bullock said.