It was a day for press conferences both locally and statewide, as Governor Steve Bullock provided another update from Helena.

Bullock praised the Montana National Guard in their efforts to help the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge after several cases of COVID 19 were reported at the facility.

“The Montana National Guard is stepping up to provide much needed staffing support at the Montana State Prison for the next two weeks,” said Bullock. “The group of 67 soldiers has now started their duties which are aimed at ensuring the operational aspects of the prison can continue. National Guard soldiers will be screened before each shift and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and direct contact with inmates will be minimal.”

Bullock also said Montana’s public schools have taken appropriate steps to keep COVID cases low.

“Since schools opened their doors, we've seen nearly 1200 cases reported and that was through October 16,” he said. “We always knew that we would see positive cases in our schools. Yet importantly, schools are acting quickly and taking mitigation steps to curb the spread. Most schools where cases are reported have been able to keep the numbers low and get the virus and spread under control. And at the same time, then also many of the schools that once had the virus are now cleared and back to normal.”

Communicable Disease and Laboratory Services Division Administrator Jim Murphy provided an update on the newly established statewide line to report problems with COVID compliance.

“While I was encouraged after reviewing these, was the fact that there wasn't one comment that we received that was attacking a business or overly negative about the business,” said Murphy. “Most of the comments were very constructive, and they were basically expressing concern about their own health, health of the customers, health of the workers and their own coworkers. It was encouraging to see that level of concern expressed.”

Bullock acknowledged that Dr. Deborah Birx, who was a regular speaker at Presidential COVID press conferences, was in North Dakota and castigated health officials and citizens for their lack of concern about COVID 19.

“Together, we're deciding not to mitigate against this community spread,” said Dr. Birx. “We're making a choice to keep North Dakota children out of the schools by deciding that our personal freedom is more important than that child's education, or my personal freedom is more important than caring for a North Dakotan in a long term care facility.”

Also appearing at the press conference were Stacey Anderson, Lead Communicable Disease Epidemiologist and Greg Holzman, State Medical Officer.