HELENA — Disruptions of day-to-day life in Montana are adding up as part of ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus just days after the first cases were announced in the state.
Gov. Steve Bullock ordered schools closed for at least two weeks and suspended most visitation to nursing homes; the state prison system has suspended visitation; ski hills are closing and exposed groups are going into self-quarantine.
Montana has six presumptive positive tests for COVID-19 out of 204 tests given, according to the state health department’s website Monday morning. Testing is now going on seven days a week. Montana reported its first case on Friday.
Here are the latest developments:
— Bullock on Sunday ordered public schools closed until at least March 27, affecting about 150,000 students, the Office of Public Instruction said. Private schools announced closures, as well. Some districts are working on ways to offer online classes or other remote learning options. The closures are creating child-care issues for the parents of young children.
— The 110 people who attended the state Board of Regents meeting in Dillon on March 5 are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days after Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian and another person who attended the meeting were diagnosed with COVID-19. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who has tested negative for the virus and has no symptoms, will remain in self-quarantine until March 20.
— Visitation at Montana Department of Corrections facilities has been suspended until further notice. “We understand the importance of in-person interaction for our inmates, their family and friends, but staff and inmate health and safety are our top priorities,” director Reginald Michael said in a statement.
— Ski areas around the state are closing, or suspending operations. Whitefish Mountain and Bridger Bowl ended their seasons early while Big Sky Resort and Red Lodge Mountain announced week-long suspensions starting Sunday.
— Montana tribes are having employees work from home and the Crow and Chippewa Cree tribes are asking residents to self-quarantine if they traveled off the reservation recently, including for basketball tournaments. The Crow Tribe enacted a 10 p.m. curfew.