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

State Expanding COVID-19 Relief Grant Programs

Gov. Steve Bullock annonces his Coronavirus Task Force on March 3, 2020 in response to the growing number of cases reported in the United States. Bullock says the task force is a multi-agency group that will coordinate public health response.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Gov. Steve Bullock announcing measures to handle the growing pandemic on March 3, 2020.

Montana is expanding state grant programs developed from federal COVID-19 relief money aimed at easing the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Local businesses have already requested tens of millions of dollars amid the economic downturn. Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday that meat processors and local governments can now apply for the economic relief grants.

Meat processors can receive up to $150,000 to pay for new equipment needed to deal with increases in processing or storage of livestock, as well as other costs associated with changes due to COVID-19.

Tom Livers, director of the state budget office, says it’s unclear how much the state could send out to county and city governments looking for financial help.

“We’re setting up a program to reimburse all eligible expenses for costs incurred as a result of responding to the pandemic. It’s pretty speculative right now to know exactly how big that number is going to be.”

The governor’s office said demand for financial relief from a separate business stabilization program has surpassed its original $50 million dollar allocation. Bullock said the state will send an additional $25 million into that program, which has already received over 8,000 applications from businesses in the state.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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