Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is ordering the state’s roughly 1 million residents to stay at home, with some exceptions like getting supplies or groceries, seeking medical care or going on a walk. It’s the state’s latest step to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The order starts Saturday March 28 and lasts two weeks until April 10th.
"I’d rather be accused of overreacting than have a health care system overwhelmed and unable to help our most at-rick Montanans when they need it most," Bullock says.
Bullock’s order says non-essential businesses are to close. The order says essential businesses include stores that sell medicine and groceries, food and beverage production and agriculture, banks, gas stations, journalism outlets, hardware stores, laundromats and restaurants that allow to-go options, among others.
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."
"The individual actions that we take now will protect more of our friends, family and neighbors from this dangerous infection.”
Public health officials say people should wash hands often, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Also to social distance - keeping 6 feet away from other people.
Montana is reporting 90 cases of the COVID-19 illness. More than 40 percent of those cases are in Gallatin county.
Earlier Thursday the Montana Hospital Association recommended Gov. Bullock 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.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.