Four new cases of coronavirus were reported in Montana on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 437.
And of those, 273 cases have recovered and there have been 12 deaths due to the respiratory illness. The state reports at covid19.mt.gov there are 14 who remain hospitalized out of 59 hospitalizations and 11,241 tests have been performed. That’s an increase of 190 tests from Monday.
Also on Tuesday, the governor said he was able to get more masks, shields and other protective gear for health care workers.
Two of the newest cases were in Gallatin County, which now has 145. Yellowstone reported one new case and now has 73 and Roosevelt County reported another confirmed case, bringing its total to seven.
Missoula County has 38 and Flathead has 37, the state said. Toole County has 29. Lewis and Clark County has 16 cases, Cascade County has 13 and Silver Bow County has 11.
Madison County has eight, Lincoln and Park counties have seven, Carbon County has six and Lake and Ravalli counties have five, according to the state.
Broadwater and Glacier counties have four, Bighorn, Deer Lodge, Golden Valley and Richland have three. Jefferson and Pondera have two and Beaverhead, Hill, Liberty, Meagher, Musselshell and Stillwater counties each have one.In terms of deaths, Flathead, Lincoln, Missoula, Madison and Yellowstone counties have reported one death each. Cascade County now has two and Toole has five. Cascade and Toole counties each reported a death on Monday.
Gov. Steve Bullock said Tuesday he was able to get 244,200 KN95 masks, 110,000 surgical masks, 54,500 face shields and 55,000 gloves from several private market suppliers for health care providers statewide. The supplies have been delivered and will distributed based on need.
Additionally, he said he has secured about 140,000 N95 masks through a combination of the Strategic National Stockpile, a mutual aid agreement with North Dakota, and the American Red Cross. Additional supply orders are pending outside of the normal supply chains and the federal government.
Bullock issued two directives Tuesday he said would increase frontline health care provider capacity to respond to COVID-19 and expand insurance coverage to allow Montanans to access routine health care services while social distancing.
“These directives will make it easier for Montanans to get a checkup without requiring an in-person visit, protect health care workers, and allow more medical professionals to respond on the frontlines of this public health crisis,” he said in an email.
The first directive makes it easier for Montanans to continue following social-distancing guidelines and receive routine health services by requiring health insurers to provide the same coverage for telehealth services for in-person services, he said in an email.
The second directive permits expedited registration of licensed out-of-state providers to practice in the state during the COVID-19 statewide emergency.
Bullock imposed a temporary stay-at-home order on March 26, now set to expire on Friday, but it could be extended. Several other directives, such as school closures and business restrictions, were extended until Friday as well. Last week he discussed the criteria the state would have to meet to reopen and said those plans would be unveiled soon.
On Sunday, nearly 350 people held a prayer vigil on the sidewalk in front of the state Capitol, calling on the governor to ease some of the rules of his directive, such as allowing all businesses to reopen.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The governor set up a Coronavirus Task Force. Its phone line is 1-888-333-0461 and Montanans can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Other than covid19.mt.gov, people can also go to www.dphhs.mt.gov for the most updated health information.
Bullock has established a 26-member panel to advise him on how to use the $1.25 billion Montana will receive from the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Montanans can comment on where the funds are needed at https://commerce.mt.gov/Cares-Act. It is accessible through the covid19.mt.gov website.
This story will be updated.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate approved $484 billion to revive a program geared to keep small businesses from shuttering and their employees from going on unemployment because of the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure helps the Paycheck Protection Program and provides loans to small businesses, with more than $320 billion, according to news reports.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., told reporters the measure would provide $16 million to the state for COVID-19 testing and should increase testing capacity. He said it is expected to go before the House on Thursday and signed shortly thereafter by President Donald Trump.
Daines also said farmers, ranchers and ag businesses will be eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in an email he supported the bill to get more resources to our small businesses and our support doctors and nurses and communities. He said the virus needed to be slowed while assisting main street businesses that are vital to the economy.
The senators said the bill also allocates $75 billion for hospitals and other providers.