HELENA – Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday announced $123 million in grants for small businesses, nonprofits and state residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The spending is the first phase of distributions of the state’s $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding. Applications can be submitted starting Thursday via covidrelief.mt.gov.
“I want to be clear that this is just an initial round of funding based on the immediate needs identified by Montanans, small businesses,” he said. “There’ll certainly be additional funding announced in the future and we’ll closely monitor the demand for the first round of emergency grants to adjust as needed to ensure Montanans are getting relief.”
Bullock is creating a $50 million grant fund for small businesses who have lost revenue due to the coronavirus and another $50 million in rent or mortgage assistance for people who have lost jobs or substantial income. Businesses can seek up to $10,000 and individuals can seek up to $2,000 a month in housing assistance costs.
Other funding includes $10 million for nonprofit social service agencies and $2 million for food banks. Individual nonprofits can apply for up to $10,000 while food banks can seek up to $50,000.
Smaller funds are available to help people with disabilities work from home, to purchase technology to reduce social isolation among the state’s senior citizens and to help companies improve their capabilities to produce or distribute products or services that directly address the COVID-19 emergency.
The governor earlier announced $5 million in grants for public health agencies.
“I’m strongly encouraging Montanans who think they may be eligible to visit covidrelief.mt.gov to learn more about the programs,” Bullock said, and to gather the information needed to submit an application.
The state hopes to issue payments within 10 to 15 businesses days, officials said.
On Wednesday, Montana will join the national trend of holding military flyovers to honor medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients.
The Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing plans to fly over 20 Montana cities on Wednesday using C-130 aircraft. Both military transport planes will leave Great Falls at 10:15 a.m. after flying over Benefis Health System.
One plane will take an eastern route and fly over Lewistown, Harlem, Wolf Point, Glendive, Miles City, Hardin, Billings, Livingston and Bozeman. The western route includes fly overs in Havre, Shelby, Browning, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Kalispell, Polson, Ronan, Missoula, Butte and Helena.
Shelby is the county seat of Toole County, which has had 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six of the state’s 16 deaths.
The flyovers will be completed at no additional cost to taxpayers because they serve as training runs for air crews, officials said. The Montana Air National Guard has also deployed 72 airmen throughout the state to help defend against the pandemic.
Montana reported no new COVID-19 cases Tuesday out of 184 tests run on Monday. The state’s total number of cases is 456, down one, after a case that had been contracted out of state and assigned to Fergus County was removed from the total. Six people are hospitalized and 410 are listed as recovered, the health department said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. Most people recover.
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