CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Community Updates for Montana, Wyoming and the Western Dakotas

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COVID-19, 2020: New Consumer Protections, Travel Conditions Announced Today, Montana Loses Another Treasure

Governor Bullock issued new orders to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and provide for consumer protections. Montana landlords, financial institutions, and utility companies are now prohibited from enacting evictions, foreclosures, and stoppage of utilities, including internet service, while the Stay at Home directive is in effect, currently through April 10. The governor is also mobilizing the Montana National Guard to take the temperature of all incoming air travelers and requiring an immediate doctor consultation if symptomatic of COVID-19. The state’s inventory of test kits is around 1600, which, given average daily test rates is a 3-to-5-day supply. The governor expects another 1500 kits to be delivered by Wednesday. 147 test results were completed over the last 24 hours, and a total of 4558 tests have been conducted by the state to date. A fifth patient has died of the coronavirus in Montana. The number of new cases grew to 198, while in Gallatin County five new cases were reported, bringing the total there to 74. Yellowstone County has 31 cases, and no other county has reported more than 15. Click here to read or print the new directive.

MT National Guard will Conduct Temperature Checks

In addition to his 14 day self-quarantine order Governor Steve Bullock has authorized  the Montana National Guard to conduct temperatures check for any passengers arriving in state by either rail or air travel in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the state. They may also ask their travel history and exposure history such as being in close contact with someone known to be infected. The National Guard Checks can only occur with the authorization of the Governor at specific locations determined by Governor Bullock.

Hamilton – Nearly All Government Offices Closed

Nearly all government offices in Ravalli County are off limits to residents due to COVID-19 concerns. Most elected officials are rotating their employees in and out of the office to keep numbers at manageable levels for safety’s sake. County officials are asking residents to pay their bills and get their questions answered over the telephone or by email.

Senator Daines Secures over $50 Million Available for Schools

Senator Steve Daines has announced that preliminary estimates of over $50 million will be made available for Montana schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Daines secured the critical funding in the coronavirus economic rescue package signed into law last week.

Northwestern Energy Aids Communities Struggling with COVID-19

Northwestern Energy today announced $300,000 in aid to assist the communities they serve that are struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of the aid will provide grants in the form of energy bill credits for small business customers that will help free up their resources.

Representative Greg Gianforte Introduces Legislation To Help Rural Broadband Providers For Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

Representative Greg Gianforte has introduced legislation to help broadband providers ensure rural broadband connectivity for students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Governor Prevents Landlords from Evicting Tenants

Governor Steve Bullock stopped landlords in the state Tuesday from evicting tenants from their homes and charging late fees or other penalties during the course of the stay at home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Bullock’s directive also stops residential foreclosures because of nonpayment and prohibits charging late fees. The governor also halted shutting off electric gas sewer water phone and internet services or charging late fees. The directive allows Montana hospitals and related facilities to receive financing to remain open and acquire needed supplies to respond to COVID-19.

Importance Of 2020 Census Explained By Emilie Ritter Saunders From The Montana Department Of Commerce

The 2020 Census is underway. Emilie Ritter Saunders from the Montana Department Of Commerce on why it is so important.

Helena – Law Enforcement Ramp-Up Enforcement of Governor’s Orders

Officials in Lewis and Clark County plan to step up the enforcement of Governor Steve Bullock’s stay at home order with a progressive approach that includes fines of $500 per day for repeat offences. County health officials have been receiving complaints about nonessential businesses staying open despite Bullock’s order to close.  Enforcement will be complaint driven.

During Tuesday Conference Call Governor Steve Bullock Attempted To Lower Worst Fears Of Montanans

Governor Steve Bullock said this to try to lower the worst fears of Montanans during a Tuesday call with reporters.

$4.7 Million Slated for Law Enforcement Protective Gear

Montana will receive an estimated $4.7 million to bolster state and local law enforcement efforts to purchase protective equipment for officers and pay for officer overtime as part of the CARES Act. Law enforcement officers will see increased activity which could result in higher risk of exposure if they do not have access to the necessary equipment

Beware Of Telephone Scam Concerning Your Expected COVID-19 Federal Government Money

To receive your COVID-19 $1,200 for singles $2,400 for couples and $500 per child the federal government will look at your 2018 or 2019 tax return. Montana Department Of Revenue Public Information Officer Sanjay Talwani says to watch out for the latest telephone scam.

Northwestern Energy Adding New Protocols For Employee And Public Safety

Northwestern Energy is enacting new protocols to ensure the health of their employees by asking the public to give them six feet of space or more for social distancing. Another new protocol from Public Relations Specialist Jo Dee Black.

Montana Economic Developers Association Says Help Is On The Way For Small Businesses

Locally owned businesses are facing difficult time as the coronavirus requires massive closures across Montana. The Montana Economic Developers Association President Steve Arveschoug along with his statewide counterparts have been in contact with our state Senators and Representative in trying to get more funding to help keep workers at small businesses employed during the shutdown.

State Airport Parking Lots Empty Or Almost Due To Coronavirus Impact On Travel

The parking lots at airports around the state are empty or near empty as the coronavirus impacts travel. Billings Logan International Airport Director of Aviation and Transit Kevin Ploehn.

Postal Service Extends Mail Holding Period

The U.S. Postal Service is extending the holding period for mail from 10 to 30 days for those impacted by COVID-19. Mail that must be returned to the delivery office due to a full box or the business not being open to receive delivery will now be held for 30 days before being returned to the sender.

Governor Bullock Raises Concerns with President Trump

In a conference call to President Donald Trump Monday governors raised concerns about having sufficient testing capacity to track the spread of the coronavirus in their states. Montana Governor Steve Bullock told the President Trump quote “we are trying  to do contact tracing we’re literally we are one day away if we don’t get test kits from the CDC that we wouldn’t be able to do testing in Montana. In response Trump said quote he hasn’t heard about testing in weeks.

Kalispell – 15 Forest Rental Cabins Closed Indefinitely

Fifteen rental cabins in Flathead National Forest have been closed indefinitely for the health and safety of visitors and staff due to COVID-19. A full list of rental cabins can  be found on the Forest’s website.

Bozeman – MSU Seeking Instructors for 2020/21 Wonderlust Program

Montana State University Wonderlust is currently seeking instructors and presenters for the 2020-2021 academic year. Currently MSU Wonderlust programs have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time MSU Wonderlust is planning for events for the next academic year but will adjust those plans as public health and safety circumstances require.

Shelby – Officials Report 2 Mores COVID-19 Deaths

The third and fourth Montanans known to die from COVID-19 have been reported. Notification of the deaths was provided to Governor Steve Bullock by the Toole County Health Department today. The administration is aware of concerns regarding impacts to the senior community in Toole County and has  been working to deploy additional resources to the health care system.

CARE Act Includes Senator Tester Provision for Student Loans

The Coronavirus Relief Package signed into law last week included Sen. Jon Tester’s Public Student Loan Forgiveness bill. It ensures that whose working to qualify will not lose eligibility if they miss payments due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Applicants must work for ten years for a qualifying employer and  make 120 qualifying payments.

COVID-19, 2020: New Consumer Protections, Travel Conditions Announced Today, Montana Loses Another Treasure

Governor Bullock issued new orders to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and provide for consumer protections. Montana landlords, financial institutions, and utility companies are now prohibited from enacting evictions, foreclosures, and stoppage of utilities, including internet service, while the Stay at Home directive is in effect, currently through April 10. The governor is also mobilizing the Montana National Guard to take the temperature of all incoming air travelers and requiring an immediate doctor consultation if symptomatic of COVID-19. The state’s inventory of test kits is around 1600, which, given average daily test rates is a 3-to-5-day supply. The governor expects another 1500 kits to be delivered by Wednesday. 147 test results were completed over the last 24 hours, and a total of 4558 tests have been conducted by the state to date. A fifth patient has died of the coronavirus in Montana. The number of new cases grew to 198, while in Gallatin County five new cases were reported, bringing the total there to 74. Yellowstone County has 31 cases, and no other county has reported more than 15. Click here to read or print the new directive.

Montana – New Montana Covid-19 Website Launched

The state has launched a phone line at 1-888-333-0461 and Montanans can also email questions about coronavirus to covid 19 info at mt dot gov. A website has also been set up at COVID19.mt.gov where the number of confirmed cases is updated in the morning at 8 and in the afternoon at 4:30 daily.

Hamilton – Country Horseman Convention Canceled

Bitter Root Country Horsemen have canceled the state annual convention in Hamilton today through Sunday because of coronavirus. They will hold their raffle drawing Saturday details to be determined and may host the event in 2021.

Billings – PBR Billings Canceled

In light of COVID-19, the PBR Unleash The Beast’s Billings Invitational, on Friday, April 17, Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19 in Billings, Mont., has been canceled. Fans who purchased tickets will be able to receive a refund (less any applicable fees) from the original point of purchase for the next 30 days. Ticket refunds must be made in writing and original tickets must be returned to NILE office with the refund request for refund to be processed. Refund Information: For fans that purchased tickets through the NILE Office, please see ticketing refund information below. If you purchased tickets online or through the Metra Park Box Office, please contact purchaser directly. Steps to a Refund: Fill out the Request of Ticket Refund form Return tickets to: NILE P.O. Box 1981 Billings, MT 59103 Please allow 2-3 weeks for processing Requests for refunds must be complete by May 1, 2020. Questions? Please email Monica at monica@thenile.org

Butte – Consent Decree Hearing Postponed

Butte-Silver Bow commissioners were going to be asked this week to set a public hearing on the consent decree for April 1st but fears of COVID-19 has postponed that indefinitely. It will be rescheduled at some point before the council acts on the plan and anyone who wants to can weigh in.

Billings – Better Off In Billings Event Cancelled

Better Off in Billings (BOIB) Event, scheduled for April 16th at the Pub Station and Babcock Theater, has been cancelled. Big Sky Economic Development is committed to following the guidelines set out by the CDC, Unified Health Command and RiverStone Health, and their recommendation is to not have in-person events of this size.

Bigfork – Independent Film Festival Postponed

The fourth annual Bigfork Independent Film Festival schedule for April 3rd through the 5th has been postponed until October 2nd through the 4th out of concerns related to coronavirus. Tickets or passes already purchased for the festival will remain valid when the event is held but a refund will be issued to people who request one.

Montana – High School Spring Sports Suspended

The Montana High School Association suspended the spring sports season Monday including all practices contests meets and festivals indefinitely in response to the spread of COVID-19. The board will reevaluate the suspension April 13th.

Lewistown – Montana Agri-Women Annual Meeting Rescheduled

The Annual Meeting in Lewistown originally set for March 27th and 28th has been rescheduled for May 1st and 2nd

Lewistown – Montana Equine Annual Meeting Postponed

Montana Equine has postponed their scheduled Annual Meeting from March 19th, and plan to reschedule it for this summer.

Billings – 2nd Shift Postpones Bingo Night to May 8th

The 2nd Shift in Lockwood has postponed their KGHL Bingo Night originally scheduled for March 20th, to May 8th.

Billings – Pub Station Taproom and Ticket Window closed through April 15th

Following the Governor and the CDC’s recommendations, The Pub Station Taproom and Ticket Window will be closed effective immediately through April 15th. Any shows that were scheduled for that time frame are being postponed. Our team believes this is the best course of action in order to get back to business as soon as safely possible, which along with public safety, is our goal. We understand that this is a stressful and uncharted time for everyone, but we encourage our patrons to hold on to any previously purchased tickets, as all tickets will be honored for the postponed dates.

Great Falls – Montana State FFA Convention Postponed

After careful and substantial consideration regarding the impact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has and will continue to make, it has been determined that the best option to protect the health of our students, stakeholders, and community is to suspend the 2020 State FFA Convention and CDE Days in Great Falls until further notice.

Great Falls – Annual Russell Exhibition And Sale At C.M. Russell Museum Postponed Due To Coronavirus

The annual Russell Exhibition and Sale at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls which was scheduled for this Thursday through Saturday has been postponed. Executive Director Tom Figarelle.

Billings – Jobs Jamboree 2020 Cancelled

Given the concerns about Coronavirus and the recent developments throughout the country, the Job Service Employer’s Committee (JSEC) has chosen to cancel Jobs Jamboree 2020.

Billings – Billings Public Library Suspension of Services

Effective immediately all outreach services to senior centers and schools are suspended. Effective immediately public programs are suspended. Effective immediately the utilization of public meeting rooms is suspended. Effective immediately all bookmobile stops are suspended. These suspensions will be in effect until further notice to ensure the safety and well-being of all patrons, volunteers, and library staff. For additional information, please check their social media web pages or visit their website at www.billingslibrary.org.