President extends social distancing guidelines until April 30

Posted at 9:12 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 09:30:53-04

President Trump announced Sunday the nationwide social distancing guidelines will remain in place until April 30, saying the "peak" of the coronavirus pandemic is expected in two weeks. Mr. Trump said he expected the country to be "well on its way to recovery" by June 1.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and one of the most prominent members of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, called the expanded guidelines "prudent."

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. continued to rise Sunday, with over 137,200 total confirmed cases nationwide and more than 2,400 deaths since the outbreak began. New York remains the epicenter of the U.S. crisis, as Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday a 68-bed makeshift hospital tent is being built outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Central Park.

In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards said the state had the second-highest number of per capita deaths. He said that within the last 24 hours, there have been 225 new coronavirus cases in the state and 2,710 tests run.

Texas had already set up a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers flying in from New Orleans, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. On Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbot announced he was mandating a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone driving into Texas from anywhere in Louisiana and for those flying in from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, as well as anywhere in California and Washington.

Abbott's mandatory quarantine came one day after similar measures were announced in Florida. That state's governor, Ron DeSantis, announced Sunday checkpoints would be set up along interstates that travelers from New York and Louisiana usually use. Any visitors from those states would have to go into a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

MONTANA: 161 cases of COVID-19 in Montana; 2 deaths reported

As of Sunday evening (March 29), there are now 161 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and two deaths.

On Sunday afternoon, public health officials confirmed the death of a Madison County woman who had tested positive for COVID-19.

"Regrettably yesterday evening (Saturday, Mar. 28, 2020), one of our Madison county residents lost their battle against the Covid-19 virus. We hope that this is the last life that will be lost against this invisible enemy," the Madison County Public Health Department said in a news release.

The patient's name has not been released due to federal privacy laws, but Melissa Brummell, Public Health Director for Madison County, said the person was "a female resident in her senior years." Brummell said the woman had direct contact with another COVID-19 positive case. All of the people in close contact with her have been notified and are on a 14-day home quarantine

That marks the second death in Montana of a person due to COVID-19 (coronavirus). The first death was 77-year old Lincoln County resident Jim Tomlin, whose death was reported on Friday.

Governor Steve Bullock released the following statement: "I’m saddened to hear that a second Montanan has died from COVID-19. No matter in which community we live, the impact of each loss of life has a ripple effect all throughout the state and serves as a reminder of how serious this disease is. Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and community of this Montanan.”

Notification of the death was provided by the Madison County Public Health Department on Sunday and confirmed by the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force.

STATE SUMMARY: Here are the counties with the most confirmed cases in Montana: Gallatin 62; Yellowstone 26; Missoula 11; Lewis & Clark 10; Butte-Silver Bow 9; Flathead 8; Cascade 7; Toole 5; Madison 4; Lincoln 4; Broadwater 3. County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services release data by county only, and do not provide information on which towns the patients live in.

Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site. There have now been eight hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana.

The DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed more than 4,069 tests for COVID-19. Officials know that the number of actual cases is undoubtedly much higher, and are continuing to test in accordance with CDC guidelines. The "recovery rate" for Montana has not yet been determined, as COVID-19 is still relatively new in our state and there is not enough data to calculate an accurate rate at this point.

  • NOTE: Some confirmed cases are being re-assigned to other counties - for instance, a Glacier County case was re-assigned to Toole County, because the patient was tested and treated in Glacier County (Cut Bank), but actually lives in Toole County. That has happened in several cases. We know that it can be confusing - we are trying to keep things as accurate as possible as the situation changes.

CASCADE COUNTY CASES: There are seven confirmed cases in Cascade County: two women in their 20s; one man in his 30s; and two women and two men in their 50. The City-County Health Department said on Friday that the latest Cascade County case is a man in his 50s who tested positive for COVID-19 in another Montana county. Because the patient is a resident of Cascade County, he is classified as a Cascade County case, and Cascade County now appears on the official state map as having seven cases of COVID-19. The CCHD said that the man has not been in Cascade County for several weeks so he could not have acquired the disease here, and has not exposed anyone else here. He will continue to be isolated in the county where he tested positive. No other information has been released. The CCHD has declined to release any other details of the confirmed cases due to federal privacy laws such as HIPAA.

County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services release data by county only, and do not provide information on which towns the patients live in.

GREAT FALLS: Law enforcement officials in Great Falls said in a news conference on Friday afternoon that they strongly encourage residents to follow Bullock's order and stay in their homes, unless there is a critical need to leave the residence. They made it clear, however, that people can leave their homes to get groceries, buy food from a restaurant, go to medical appointments, provide care for others, and other activities that are deemed essential. They can also drive around and enjoy the outdoors, but officials stressed that maintaining a "social distance" of at least six feet from other people is critical.

They explained what the governor's order meant in terms of law enforcement actions. They said that travel throughout Great Falls and Cascade County is not restricted, and officers will not be stopping people simply to make them justify their travel. Law enforcement officers will continue to conduct proactive patrols, respond to calls for assistance, and make traffic stops when appropriate.

"STAY HOME" ORDER: Governor Steve Bullock on Thursday afternoon issued a directive requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all nonessential businesses and operations as efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continue. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 28. Click here for complete details.

The order will be in effect through Friday, April 10, and requires all businesses and operations in Montana, except for essential businesses and operations as defined in the directive, to stop all activities within the state. The Directive also prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or place of residence. The order does not prohibit restaurants from continuing to offer take-out, curb-side, and delivery service. Click here for a list of Great Falls restaurants offering such service.

Employees who are not sure if they are considered essential should talk with their manager/business owner. Business owners with questions can call at 1-800-755-6672 and leave messages 24-hours a day and will receive a prompt response, according to Bullock. *CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TEXT OF THE DIRECTIVE*