Face The State: Montana responds to COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 20:30:45-04

HELENA — Face The State on Sunday, March 22, featured what you need to know about the biggest story in Montana and the world: the COVID-19 virus (coronavius) outbreak. Mike Dennison hosted the program and talked to the chairman of the governor’s COVID-19 task force and the president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

On Saturday evening, the City-County Health Department in Great Falls confirmed three cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Cascade County, bringing the total number of cases in Montana to at least 30 (click here for details).

Major General Matthew Quinn, the head of the Montana National Guard, is chairing Governor Steve Bullock’s task force on COVID-19. He outlined what state and local public agencies are doing in an effort to slow the outbreak in Montana.

On the impact side of the outbreak – Montana Chamber of Commerce president Todd O’Hair told MTN how businesses are dealing with the situation. He says the pandemic has arrived so quickly that businesses don’t know yet what the best type of assistance might be. Quinn says while government is doing what it can – the real responsibility may ultimately rest with Montana citizens.

“Listen, we need to look as citizens as how we are gathering as a people and try to decrease the amount of those gatherings or stop those gatherings. That’s the most effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19. But where that number goes, depends a lot on what we do as a state and what we do as a public,” Quinn said. “The speed at which this has rolled into Montana and as quickly as it has escalated -- I think the business community is dealing with how to respond with what’s facing them immediately,” O’Hair said. “And it’s difficult for them to try to look ahead to see, how long is this going to be? What’s another shoe that could drop? How do we prepare ourselves and what sort of immediate assistance do we need?”

Other counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19 include: Yellowstone, Missoula, Gallatin, Flathead, Lewis & Clark, Butte-Silver Bow, Broadwater, Roosevelt, Ravalli, and Madison.

State officials are keeping a list of confirmed cases on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site. A spokesoman for the Montana COVID-19 Task Force says that positive test results for Montana residents who are currently outside the state will not be included in the totals reported on the website, and said: "The state recognizes that its reporting totals will differ from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) total as a result of these reporting processes."

As of Sunday, March 22, the public health lab in Helena has completed 1,392 tests for (COVID-19). Gardner said that the state lab is operating seven days per week during the pandemic.