Governor orders Montanans to stay at home

By 
Sam Klomhaus - Enterprise Staff Writer
Thursday, March 26, 2020
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This Montana Department of Health and Human Services map, posted at https://montana.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=7c34f3412536439491adcc2103421d4b, shows the number of coronavirus cases by county.

Gov. Steve Bullock said the state will be implementing measures for Montanans to stay at home effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday until April 10.

The directive will be no different than a “shelter in place” order, basically telling people to “hunker down,” Bullock said.

With 90 cases in the state, Bullock said at a press conference Thursday afternoon, more needs to be done to curtail the spread of the virus. There are no confirmed cases in Park County at this time.

Leaving home for reasons of health and safety, necessary supplies and services, certain types of work, to take care of others and participate in outdoor activities as long as they comply with social distancing requirements will still be allowed, Bullock said.

“This is a direction to stay at home except for essential work and essential services,” Bullock said.

Essential work and businesses will still be allowed to continue, Bullock said, and the state will follow federal guidelines to determine which employees and businesses qualify.

Bullock said he hopes the order is self-enforced, but counties will be able to enforce it if necessary.

It’s critical to cut off the chain of transmission, Bullock said, to avoid ending up like virus hotspots where healthcare providers are getting sick and making difficult choices.

“I’d rather be accused of overreacting than have a health care system overwhelmed and unable to help our most at-risk Montanans when they need it the most,” Bullock said.\

Staying home, not gathering, staying six feet apart and planning in order to limit contact with others will slow the spread of the virus and save lives, Bullock said.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from the directive, Bullock said.

Gallatin County reported 14 new cases Thursday afternoon, bringing its total to 38, the most in Montana. Yellowstone County has reported the second-highest number of cases with 14.

There was one case each reported in Lewis & Clark, Meagher, Missoula, Silver Bow and Yellowstone counties.

As of Thursday afternoon, the state has reported testing 2,669 people for the virus. There were 476 tests done Thursday. Tests are being turned around in about 24 hours, Bullock said.

For updated case number information, go here: https://montana.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=7c34f341....

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