In a telephone press conference from his office in Helena on Monday afternoon, Montana Governor Steve Bullock provided an update on the COVID 19 pandemic and its effects on Montana.

“With six confirmed presumptive positive cases so far in Montana at this time, I made the decision yesterday to issue several directives and recommendations to the citizens of Montana,” said Governor Bullock. “Together we can lessen the impact of COVID 19 in our state by reducing the speed at which it spreads. Our first priority is certainly prevention, and through social distancing we’re getting our message out to the public about how to prevent the further spread of the virus. The goal right now is to keep as many people healthy as possible and these are difficult decisions, but by taking the difficult steps now we can stop the disease more quickly. Reduce the strain on our frontline healthcare providers and prevent even more long-term challenges.”

Bullock was asked by reporters in the statewide call about the number of test kits that are being made available to healthcare workers in Montana.

“Right now, as far as the raw numbers go we can test another 750 individuals and we’re expecting another thousand test kits to arrive from the CDC on Wednesday,” he said. “I do have concerns about ensuring that we will have enough in the near future. However, it’s not just the tests, it’s the adjacent supplies. Everything from the swabs and the vials that the swabs will be transported in. I and other governors will continue to push the federal government to provide what is needed.”

State Health Officer Dr. Greg Holzman also weighed in on testing for COVID 19.

“Tests are done by being swabbed by your healthcare provider,” said Holzman. “One they do it, it is either sent to the state lab here in Helena or it could be sent to one of these private labs out of state. We at the state lab are able to turn that test around a lot faster, so with cases where they need the answer right away, they’re going to send it to us.”

Todd Harwell with Montana DPHHS addressed the number of tests completed so far.

“Currently, we’ve tested 204 people so far and we have approximately 109 people or patients who are being tested today, so that’s the latest,” said Harwell. “On our website, we update that every evening as soon as the final test results are done, so you can refer to that every day.”

Bullock closed by stating that the six people who have tested positive for the COVID 19 virus are, to the best of his knowledge, all at home.

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