On Tuesday, at a press conference in Helena, Governor Steve Bullock extended some closures and restrictions throughout the state to slow the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic in the state.

Bullock issued a directive to extend closures of public schools and dine-in food service and alcoholic beverage businesses through April 10 and mandate social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Montana.

“Yesterday, for example, we saw an increase of 25 percent of our COVID-positive population in Montana,” said Bullock. “While I wish it were otherwise, I certainly expect those numbers to be increasing as the numbers in some communities as the tests continue.”

Bullock pointed out that most of the positive tests are not in the older age groups.

“While we recognize that the threat of coronavirus is greatest in older Montanans, and those that have medical conditions already, if you look at the positive cases in Montana, the average age is 46 years old. The ability to control the spread of the disease really does lie with each one of us.”

In addition to the April 10 closure extension, Bullock further restricted public gatherings.

“We’re now issuing a directive that non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or a place of residence of greater than 10 people with a distance of less than six feet between individuals cannot be maintained,” he said. “We’re also preparing for the potential of an increase of patients in our hospitals. We’re doing everything in our capacity as a state to prepare to take care of critically ill people, as well as if we end up getting numerous COVID 19 positive patients in our hospitals, and to ensure that there is hospital space to respond.”

Bullock said the state DPHHS has been receiving more COVID 19 supplies.

“Today at the state lab we received 4,000 additional swabs for testing,” he said. “The swabs were ordered from a private supplier a week ago today, but that order was canceled by the supplier based on demand and that the federal government needed the resources.
I and others on my team had conversations with FEMA, HHS, and even the Vice President’s office to address the problem specifically of these supply constraints and centered around these swabs, and a week later the swabs arrived.”

The Governor’s directive streamlines the process for releasing patients and discharging them back to their home communities without delay as they recover, which will free up beds and equipment for new patients.

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