Montana Senator Steve Daines conducted a telephone town hall meeting from his office in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with listeners throughout the state focusing on the current coronavirus pandemic.

Daines began by clarifying the problems facing residents of Montana and the rest of the country and the world.

“The virus is spreading,” said Daines. “As the virus is spreading, there are thousands of Montanans who have also lost jobs. In fact, we’re keeping a close eye on new unemployment claims in Montana. That number is now well over 30,000, and that’s just over the past two weeks.”

Daines acknowledged that the majority of companies in Montana are small businesses, and they have been hit the hardest by the COVID 19 pandemic.

“For small businesses, many of them have been forced to close their doors,” he said. “They’re wondering when they will have to let their hard working employees go. It’s some of the most gut-wrenching decisions that these employers and employees have had to face in their lifetimes.”

Responding to a call about how long it might take for a vaccine or other treatments to come forward, since health officials are saying there may be a second wave of the virus in the next few months, Daines said the outlook is promising.

“There are innovations that have already proven to protect us against Ebola, against SARS, and against MERS,” he said. “This is now just another battle we need to fight and they’ve proven it in some earlier pandemics, and that’s why there is great confidence and hope that it will be American innovation that will take us to an ultimate cure.”

It was announced on Tuesday that a fifth person in Montana has died from coronavirus and the total number of confirmed cases was now 208.