Gov. Steve Bullock declined Tuesday to pick a target date for easing directives aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Montana, adding that he expects the reopening of the state's economy to happen gradually in stages.
Bullock held a news conference in Helena and took questions from reporters by phone. He announced his office has completed a report on the demographics of COVID-19 cases in Montana and fielded questions on the duration of his closure orders, testing capacity in Montana and other topics related to the outbreak.
Bullock's order closing all schools statewide and his stay-at-home order, which closes certain businesses deemed nonessential, are scheduled to run through April 24. Last week, Bullock announced his first extension of his original two-week order, and he has indicated that he intends to evaulate these orders in two-week increments for additional extensions.
“Picking a date to say right now when everything will expire does not seem sensible when we take into account the health of Montanans and the economy,” Bullock said.
On Tuesday morning, Montana reported 399 COVID-19 cases, with five new cases added over the day. Seven people have died from the disease, and 24 are in the hospital. A total of 50 have been hospitalized from the virus since the outbreak began, and 197 have recovered.
In response to a letter from Montana Republican legislative leaders, Bullock said his orders are constitutional and authorized through powers granted by the Montana Legislature.
Bullock has also issued orders suspending foreclosures, evictions and associated fees for the duration of the stay-at-home order
Watch the full news conference below.