According to the Montana Response COVID-19 tracking map, Montana confirms 448 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday morning, adding 3 cases since Saturday.
On Saturday, the total number of cases was 445.
Glacier County added two new cases; Yellowstone County, one new case.
There have been 14 deaths in Montana to date. There have been six deaths in Toole County, two in Cascade County, two in Flathead County, and one each in Lincoln County, Madison County, Missoula County, and Yellowstone County.
The Montana East-West Shrine Game, which has kicked off each summer since 1947, has been called off due to the continued coronavirus pandemic. Game officials informed players, cheerleaders and coaches on Thursday.
Butte health officials canceled the Mining City's Fourth of July parade and postponed the annual July 3 fireworks show last week.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic is changing our community. To keep you and your family informed as we move forward, we're beginning a new series of reports. We're calling it The Rebound: Montana.
In the coming weeks and months, The Rebound: Montana will bring you stories to help navigate these uncertain times — from what you'll need to know when it's time to go back to work, to how those in the community continue to step up.
Highlights of "Re-opening The Big Sky" plan
Governor Steve Bullock announced during a news conference on Wednesday a three-phase plan to "re-open" Montana, as closures and restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 will be gradually rescinded.
Among the highlights of the plan is that many retail businesses can become operational beginning on April 27, and restaurants, bars, casinos, and breweries can become operational beginning on May 4 in accordance with the guidelines listed below. Scroll down for links to the complete plan and key points.
- The "stay at home order" will expire on April 26 for individuals and April 27 for businesses. Retail businesses can become operational on or after April 27 if they can adhere to requirements to limit capacity and maintain strict physical distancing.
- Restaurants, bars, breweries, and distilleries can begin providing some in-establishment services beginning May 4.
- Businesses where groups gather without the ability to social distance including movie theaters, gyms, and other places of assembly remain closed.
- Places of worship can become operational on April 26 in a manner consistent with social distancing between people who are not members of the same household.
- On May 7, all schools will have the option to return to in-classroom teaching delivery at the discretion of local school boards. The Directive does not preclude school boards from declaring local emergencies to continue to receive all appropriate state funding to continue to provide remote learning.
- Montana’s travel quarantine will remain in effect and out of state travelers and residents arriving from another state or country back to Montana for non-work related purposes are required to quarantine for 14 days.
The plan includes several phases and highlights the factors that will determine when it is appropriate to move to the second phase of reopening. That decision will be driven by conditions on the ground and the latest data, according to Bullock.
The "Re-opening The Big Sky" plan is divided into three phases; here is a summary of some of the key points of the first phase:
PHASE ONE: SPECIFIC TYPES OF EMPLOYERS/ACTIVITIES
- RESTAURANTS / BARS / BREWERIES / DISTILLERIES / CASINOS can become operational on or after May 4, under strict physical distancing and reduced capacity protocols in accordance with State guidelines. All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11:30.
- RETAIL BUSINESSES can become operational on or after Monday, April 27, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained.
- GYMS / POOLS / HOT TUBS remain closed.
- PERSONAL CARE (SALONS, MASSAGE, BODY ART, ETC.) Operations that require close personal contact for an extended period result in exposing staff and customers to greater levels of risk. These situations require additional safety and health precautions. Stylist / artist / service-provider and customer would be a “station” that would be 6 feet away from other “stations”. • Provide for 6 feet of physical distancing between stations, this may require: • A reduction in capacity; • Increasing spacing, removing stations, or marking stations as closed; • Providing for a physical barrier between stations; • A reduction of seating in service and waiting areas; or • Systems that reduce the amount of contact time between customers and staff.
- SENIOR LIVING OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES must continue to prohibit visitors. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed. This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.
- OUTDOOR RECREATION can become operational if sites adhere to strict physical distancing between groups and exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open.
- PLACES OF WORSHIP can become operational on or after Sunday, April 26, with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members.
- OTHER PLACES OF ASSEMBLY shall remain closed (e.g., movie and performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls).
PHASE ONE: INDIVIDUALS
- ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to follow the stay home guidance. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.
- Vulnerable Individuals: people over 65 years of age and/or those with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
- All individuals (non-household), WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others. • Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
- MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to Montana guidelines regarding quarantine.
PHASE ONE: EMPLOYERS
- Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
- When telework is not feasible it is encouraged to ACCOMMODATE ALTERNATE WORK SCHEDULES such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact; or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
- MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS TRAVEL.
- SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS should be made for members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION or those with vulnerable household members.
The above information is just a brief summary of key points; click the links below for more details.
- Does your health insurance cover you for Covid-19? Learn more here.
CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION AND RESOURCES FOR SW MONTANA
Stimulus payments: what you should know
The Economic Impact Payments (often referred to as "stimulus checks") are starting to show up in bank accounts for many people, and there are several questions and concerns that some people have.
Several weeks ago, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included individual stimulus checks for more than 100 million Americans. Now, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced 50 to 70 million people should expect their money this week.
Two of the most common questions we have received: will my stimulus money be taxed, and will the amount be taken out of my tax refund next year? The answer to those concerns are not easily found (if they are even available yet in plain-language) on the IRS website, so we checked with other sources to find out.
According to Money.com: , the stimulus payments are not considered taxable income, and are not "advances" on next year's tax refunds:
- Will this eat into my tax refund for 2020? No. The ‘advance’ you’ve been hearing about is in reference to a special tax credit that’ll appear on the tax return you file in 2021 for the 2020 tax year — a tax credit that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for these stimulus checks. So the Internal Revenue Service isn’t giving you some of your 2020 tax refund upfront. The stimulus check will be in addition to what you would’ve otherwise expected.
- Will it count towards my taxable income for 2020? No. This money is not considered income. It won’t be taxable and it won’t affect your income tax bracket for 2020.
CNBC.com offers the same information:
- Myth 1: "The stimulus checks are taxed." The stimulus checks are not taxable income. The checks — which are worth $1,200 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000, plus $500 for dependents under 17 — are structured as refundable tax credits. That is why even people who do not typically file tax returns qualify for these payments, according to the Tax Foundation, an independent think tank.
- Myth 2: "I will have to pay back the stimulus check next tax season." Assuming all of the information on your tax returns is correct, you will not repay the check next spring.
And from Forbes.com: "The good news about your stimulus check is that’s tax-free. You will not owe income taxes on your stimulus check."