Find the latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana here.
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03/31/20, 7 p.m.
As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, Montana is reporting just shy of 200 known cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus. 15 people are hospitalized, and Gov. Steve Bullock announced a fifth death due to the disease yesterday. He also said 32 people have recovered.
Bullock is requiring anyone coming into the state to self-quarantine for 14 days in an effort to prevent further spread of the illness. And he's authorized the Montana national guard to do some screening measures for people coming into this state by air or rail. That quarantine order is in effect through April 10.
Tourism and travel groups and popular destinations like the Flathead Valley are asking hotels and short term rentals to stop accepting new bookings — even as a couple high end Montana ranches are featured in national magazines as places to, "ride out the coronavirus quarantine in style."
Listen to the audio above for more details in today's morning update.
03/31/20, 5 p.m.
Gov. Steve Bullock is directing landlords not to evict tenants who are unable to pay rent while a state-wide stay-at-home order is in place. The directive comes as reported cases of the novel coronavirus continue to grow in the state. Unemployment has skyrocketed around the nation and in Montana as businesses close and workers are laid off.
"Now let me be clear, this is not a free pass on rent or on home debt. Tenants and home owners still need to meet their obligations and should do so on time where they can," Bullock said. "But so long as as this virus forces Montanans to stay home to save lives, they need a home to stay in."
Bullock says the order also prohibits late fees or other penalties due to late or non-payment of rent during the stay at home order. It also stops residential foreclosures due to nonpayment. The governor says his directive does not provide state funding to landlords.
Bullock’s stay at home order lasts through April 10.
03/30/20 8 p.m.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock is ordering anyone coming into the state to self-quarantine for 14 days in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Bullock says travel from another state or country is the most common known source of COVID-19 infections in Montana. Health officials say the virus is spreading locally in Missoula, Yellowstone and Gallatin counties.
Bullock also authorized the Montana National Guard to screen people’s temperatures and potential exposure history at airports and rail stations.
The quarantine order applies to people already here for non-work-related travel, and to Montanans recently returned from out-of-state. It does not apply to people passing through the state on the way to somewhere else. Healthcare workers are also exempt.
Recent reporting from the Montana Free Press shows long-term bookings for vacation rentals are up in certain parts of the state.
Two Montana ranches have been featured in national magazines as places to, "ride out the coronavirus pandemic in style."
Bullock’s order comes after some counties issued their own 2-week quarantine requirements for incoming travelers. Local health officials have asked attractions like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks to close to limit tourist travel. Both parks are now closed to visitors. Learn more.
Gov. Steve Bullock today issued a shelter in place order for the state’s roughly 1 million residents, ordering Montanans to stay at home, aside from getting groceries, seeking medical care and some other exceptions. The order starts 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 28 and lasts two weeks, until April 10.
Bullock previously ordered closed schools, restaurants, bars and other gathering places, and also limited public gatherings to fewer than 10 people. But he said this additional step was needed to ensure the state does, "everything we can to cut off the chain of transmission."
Earlier today the Montana Hospital Association recommended Gov. Bullock to issue a mandatory statewide shelter in place declaration to protect lives and the state economy. MHA says the potential for an explosive spread of the novel coronavirus in Montana is a reality that cannot be ignored. The association says a shelter in place order would allow public health workers to test, track and isolate people who are infected. MHA says this could quarantine the virus.
More than 20 states now have varying shelter in place orders in effect as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.
As of the latest updated count from the Montana State Health Department this afternoon, the state lab has confirmed 90 cases of COVID-19 in Montana. More than 40 percent of those cases are in Gallatin County, where health officials say the virus is likely community spread.
Montana health officials say there has been one hospitalization due to COVID-19 in the state. Several more rural counties in Montana identified their first cases of the virus, including Licoln and Hill Counties.