At a press conference in Helena in Friday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock proposed a ‘gradual reopening’ for the state from the COVID 19 crisis.

“Today we have 422 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Montana,” said Bullock. “We’ve had an estimated 233 patients recover and we have 21 active hospitalizations. We’ve now tragically faced the loss of nine Montanans. The Cascade County Health Department announced the ninth death in Montana due to COVID 19.”

Bullock said the state will be receiving a large chunk of federal aid to help deal with the pandemic.

“Montana will receive $1.25 billion to respond to the crisis and to support government and Montanans who need it most, small businesses, workers, tribal communities and state and local governments,” he said. “We all need to understand that this will be a gradual process, because one we begin to reopen we want to be able to stay open. We also have to recognize that our new normal is going to look a little bit different. The virus isn’t going away and we’re going to continue to learn how to adapt and live with it for the next while.”

Bullock identified several markers for progress in reopening the state.

“There are at least three or four primary markers at this time for phasing in a reopening,” he said. “First, there has to be a sustained reduction of new cases for at least 14 days. Second, we need to make sure our hospitals are able to safely treat all patients, both COVID 19 and all those with other conditions, especially in our rural areas. Third, we need to make sure we have the capacity to test all people with COVID 19 symptoms, and the capacity for our state and local public health officials to conduct active monitoring of newly confirmed cases and their contacts.”

Bullock also chided President Trump for not fulfilling promises for more test kits for the state.