Gov. Bullock announced plan for phased reopening of the state
April 16, 2020
MONTANA - At a press conference Friday, April 17, Governor Steve Bullock announced the state is planning to do a phased reopening of the state following the expiration of the Stay at Home Directive and other closure orders April 24. This plan, which is still in development, is based on President Donald Trump’s recommendations for reopening the economy that was released Thursday.
According to Worldometer’s website on Friday, Montana ranked #48 of the 50 states with 422 cases. There are 233 patients who have recovered and 21 active hospitalization with nine deaths across the state.
Bullock highlighted South Dakota reported 1,411 cases Friday even though they have performed around the same number of tests as Montana. North Dakota is over 400 cases and had their highest single jump yesterday.
“We have flattened the curve and we have saved lives,” said Bullock. “Because we acted early, Montana does have a significantly lower rate of infection per capita than many of our neighboring states that have not implemented stay-at-home directives.”
Bullock, along with public health experts and business owners, have been assessing how they can reopen the state while keeping Montanans safe and avoiding a new outbreak. While the state at home directive remains in effect until April 24, following the expiration of the closure orders the state will move forward with a phased reopening. He said it will be a deliberate plan setting up a gradual process that will include mitigation measures for setbacks.
“Once things are reopened, we want them to stay open,” said Bullock. “The new normal is going to look a little different. The virus isn’t going away and we are going to have to continue to adapt how we live with it for the next while.”
Some of the key points for the phased reopening includes:
1. Sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days. The numbers of new cases in Montana started declining last week and Bullock said he expects that to continue this week.
2. Hospitals must be able to safely treat all patients including new COVID-19.
3. Montana must have the capacity to test all people with symptoms of COVID-19 and monitor all current COVID-19 cases.
4. The state must reopen in a way that businesses, health officials and main streets have thought through the challenges of what a reopening looks like and they are prepared.
“We need to mitigate the risks, knowing the risks are still there,” said Bullock. “We will do it in a way that protects Montanan’s lives and our economy. We will continue to do this the Montana way based on the data and the science on the ground here, not based on politics. I also know if we get this wrong, it will hurt us even more. We need to continue working together, keep talking to our neighbors and keep doing what is best for Montana.”
Bullock was asked what this phased reopening meant for schools reopening, since other states have closed schools for the year. Bullock said even in the President’s guidance, schools are not reopening until the second phase.
“We aren’t there yet for sure,” said Bullock. “We are a local control state. So the decisions may well be made at the local level. We want to make sure at the state level we are deliberate in what would allow a business and schools to reopen.”