Montana Gov. Stephen Bullock announced additional guidelines this week to open specific categories of businesses starting May 15.
The plan allows gyms and fitness studios, movie theaters and museums the option to reopen beginning Friday, “as long as they adhere to strict guidelines limiting capacity, requiring social distancing, and imposing thorough sanitation requirements,” according to the press release. As the state continues to manage the virus, hundreds from Montana National Guard have been activated since the onset of the COVID-19 response aiding in a number of the governor’s directives.
Capt. Dan Bushnell, public affairs officer, said 57 soldiers and airmen are serving on three task forces as part of a Regional Response Force.
“This task force can respond to any immediate need as deemed by the Governor or MG Matthew Quinn, the Adjutant General and Montana Corona Task Force Leader. As of now, they are training in temperature screenings, warehousing, driver’s training, etc. With the teams is a medical officer that can assist if needed depending upon the emergency,” Bushnell stated in an email interview.
More than 47,000 from the Air and Army National Guard have been assisting in missions around the U.S. — including across all states, three territories and the District of Columbia. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, says the response is the largest use of the Guard domestically since Hurricane Katrina.
“We have not had an incident that required this large of a response from the National Guard since Hurricane Katrina,” Lengyel said. “The National Guard is as busy as it’s been for a very long time and I’m proud to say we are trained and we are ready.”
Two hundred from Montana National Guard have provided a range of support services, including:
- Building a mobile, modular, alternate care facility that can be transported anywhere in the state depending on the medical need.
- Performing temperature screening at 17 airports and train stations across the state.
- Providing additional assistance in the Montana Dept. of Public Health and Human Services warehouse. Both filling orders and transporting needed medical supplies around the state.
As Montana remains under Phase One of the governor’s “Reopening the Big Sky” plan, its Guard is evaluating future training plans. A deployment in support of Defender-Europe 20 in Germany that was set to take place earlier in the year has already been canceled.
“Our planning cell has been working on this diligently. … Like every other state, we have had to look at new ways to conduct our IDT periods and potentially annual trainings. However, as of now, we are looking at the summer to complete all necessary training tasks, for both the Air and the Army National Guard in Montana. It would not be fair to say when that will occur at this time, as the situation is still dynamic. However, we are working diligently to ensure that at every level, the airmen and the soldiers of the Montana National Guard complete their required training by the end of the training year,” Bushnell said.