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Montana to ban evictions, utility shutoffs amid virus order

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana residents will be protected from eviction, foreclosure or utility shutoffs for nonpayment while the state’s stay-at-home order is in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Bullock said Tuesday.

Providers of most utilities — including electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, phone or internet services — have already said they would suspend shutoffs voluntarily.

“Tenants and homeowners still need to meet their obligations and should do so on time where they can,” Bullock said.

The governor authorized members of the Montana National Guard to begin taking temperatures of visitors at major airports and train stations and to give them information about the 14-day quarantine for non-working visitors Bullock announced Monday. If they have a fever, they will be asked to immediately consult with a doctor and will be asked where they are staying so the local public health agencies can continue to follow up.

“This is a serious thing to do, and it’s the right thing to do,” Bullock said.

The Department of Commerce will be telling vacation listing rental sites that they must notify potential out-of-state renters of the 14-day quarantine requirement, Bullock said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Montana is reporting 198 positive tests for COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. Bullock also said the state has a fifth death, but he did not say where it occurred.

Bullock also announced that hospitals and other health care facilities will be able to borrow money to remain open, purchase supplies and pay employees while they await federal funding to help with increased costs due to the coronavirus.