On Thursday, Governor Steve Bullock conducted his first press conference in weeks since the COVID 19 pandemic has expanded rapidly through the state.

Governor Bullock illustrated how rapidly the COVID 19 virus has traveled through the population of Montana.

“t took a little over six months for Montana to reach its first 10,000 cases, but only 25 days to reach the second 10,000 cases and only 15 days to reach the third 10,000 cases by October 28,” said Governor Bullock. “It took 11 days to reach 40,000 cases on November 8.”

He then described just how many people might also have been involved as close contacts.

“If you take a modest estimate and just assume that each individual who tested positive had four close contacts, then over 80,200 Montanans should have been quarantined for a portion of last month in total, that would be over 100,000 Montanans having to quarantine or isolate for some part of the month of October,” he said. “That's nearly the population of Montana's largest city Billings. It's more like the population of Flathead County and it's just about the population of Ravalli, and Lewis and Clark counties combined.”

Bullock then explained why he as the Governor has chosen not to place the entire state under more severe restrictions, such as closing down businesses and forcing Montanans to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

“I have grave concerns, ones I do not share alone and those are mainly for the public health of the state and elsewhere due to about sending tens of thousands of Montanans into the unemployment line without any enhanced unemployment benefits, and how those Montanans will keep their heat on in their homes this winter months and their families fed,” he said. “We also haven't seen another round of stimulus checks that could help families get by and stay home, particularly when we're seeing so many instances of quarantine and isolation with these skyrocketing cases.”

Governor Bullock also took the people of Montana to task for not following the restrictions that have already been imposed.

“To be candid, the additional reality is that we do have public health restrictions in place that are currently not being followed by everyone,” he said. “I do have concerns that further restrictions also will not be followed, and yet we continue to consult with state and local public health about options. Hot spot communities like Missoula, Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman and Butte have implemented stricter measures in various forms, and I strongly urge those who live in those communities to follow those measures.”

Other speakers included Dr. Greg Holzman, Montana’s Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist Stacey Anderson.