Gov. Steve Bullock in his address to the State on Friday, April 17, stated, “Montana’s stay at home directive is in effect through April 24 and will stay in effect through April 24. After April 24, we will move forward with a phased reopening.”

Highlights from his address appear below:

When COVID-19 first came to Montana, we took quick and aggressive measures to slow the spread and keep Montanans home during this critical period.

We have flattened the curve and we have saved lives.

April 16, President Trump convened a call with the nation’s governors and laid out guidelines on reopening the economy. On that call, the President told us that we governors will call the shots in our own states.

I know Montanans are hurting financially. We all want to get Montanans working again.

Montana will receive $1.25 billion dollars to respond to this crisis and support Montanans who need it most — small businesses, workers, tribal communities, non-profits, and state and local governments.

Over the next couple of weeks, the newly formed Task Force will examine sectors of the economy to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on Montanans, consider the unique needs of each region of the state, and provide guidance on how to best utilize these funds to address the immediate needs of Montanans and with an eye towards an immediate and long-term path to economic recovery.

But let me be clear: Montana’s stay at home directive is in effect through April 24 and will stay in effect through April 24. After April 24, we will move forward with a phased reopening.

We all need to understand this will be a gradual process. Because once we begin to reopen, we want to be able to stay open.

By next week, we will have a deliberate plan for reopening, but that will also include thoughtful planning in the event we face any setbacks. This will be a phased reopening.

First, there must be a sustained reduction of new cases for at least 14 days. This is important because 14 days is the incubation period of the virus. We have been tracking our cases closely in Montana. Last week we saw a decline in new positives, and I am hopeful and confident we will see a decline this week as well.

Second, we need to make sure our hospitals are able to safely treat all patients — both COVID-19 and with other conditions — especially in our rural areas.

Third, we need to make sure we have the capacity to test all people with COVID-19 symptoms and the capacity for our state and local public health officials to conduct active monitoring of newly confirmed cases and their contacts.

While our state lab has been able to sufficiently perform testing, we will need to ramp up our testing capacity further. We still, at times, have shortages with swabs and reagents, which impacts our capacity to test on the ground.

Finally, we want to reopen in a way that works for our businesses, our public health community, and main streets. We want to do it in the way, so they have sufficient time to be plan for what reopening looks like and that they are prepared.

Again, I want to open things up as much as any Montanan. That’s why we have already begun a process to do so. We will do it in a way that will protect Montanans’ lives and the recovery of our economy. And we will continue to do this the Montana way — based on the data and science on the ground here, not based on politics.

We need to keep working together, keep taking care of our neighbors, and keep doing what’s best for Montana.

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