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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Yellowstone County Officials Seeking Data On Financial Impacts From Coronavirus

County officials say financial information could attract federal relief money toward the county.
County officials say financial information could attract federal relief money toward the county.

A day after declaring a state of emergency in Yellowstone County, local government leaders are asking businesses, schools and other groups to document financial impacts of the novel coronavirus. County officials say this information could attract federal relief money toward the county.

Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator KC Williams says he needs businesses, schools and event organizers to document the names and dates of impacted events, and to what extent plans had to change as a result of following federal guidelines or government ordered closures.

"This is a nationwide declaration of emergency. We are competing, if you will, with every community in the United States. The better we document the impact this has on us, the higher up we go on the list for potential resources," Williams says.

Williams asks planners to file the following information for each event, school or facility impacted:

  • Name of event, school or facility
  • Type of event affected (event, school facility)
  • Date of impact or start date of impact
  • Impact: closed/cancelled; impacted by operational (theater show with no audience but livestreamed); operational (Cher postponed to a later date)
  • Notes: include important information about status, impacts, cost implications, etc.
  • Address of event or facility

Williams asks respondents to send him an email at COVID-19@co.yellowstone.mt.gov. Williams is available to answer questions at 256.2775.Williams says President Donald Trump’s federal declaration of emergency opens up federal relief funds. But Williams says the country hasn’t faced a nationwide disaster like the coronavirus before. He says some laws may have to change for states, counties and local governments to recoup money lost because of their response to the virus. He says right now there’s no guidance for how bars or restaurants forced to close could receive federal aid.

The Billings-based Big Sky Economic Development is also gathering data about the coronavirus’ financial impacts to send to state leaders.

Steve Arveschoug asks small business owners to fill out the one-page Economic Injury Worksheet to help his organization establish overall impacts. 

"There will be a time when all of us in our community will need to show up and support our small business commmunity. I can't tell you when that appropriate time is to re-engage that way, but they will need us to show up," Arveschoug says.

On Mar. 17, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved 30 Montana counties for federal disaster relief loans. Those carry a 2.75 to 3.75 percent interest rates and will cover fixed debts, payroll accounts payable and other bills. 

Update 03/17/20 6:00 P.M.: The governor's office announced late Tuesday the SBA had expanded eligibility to all Montana counties effective immediately. Businesses can apply for up to $2 million in 30-year loans.

Yellowstone County’s health department on Monday joined others across the state and issued a weeklong closure for bars and eateries in an effort to limit crowd sizes in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The full impact of that order, along with voluntary cancellations and postponements, hasn’t been added up yet.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

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