Reminder: Gov’s Directive Requires Masks

white ceramic sculpture with black face mask

This week Teton County has at least 4 active cases, which means under Governor Bullock’s directive people over the age of 5 need to wear masks when social distancing is not possible and for “businesses, government offices and other indoor spaces open to the public to ensure that employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and other members of the public wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose while remaining inside these spaces.”

If you lost yours, the Choteau Chamber has designed an easy to print sign that you can put on your front door – get your mask sign downloaded and printed here!

SBA to Make EIDL Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing disaster assistance to agricultural businesses; however, as a result of the unprecedented legislation enacted by President Trump, American farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses will now have access to emergency working capital,” said Administrator Carranza. “These low-interest, long-term loans will help keep agricultural businesses viable while bringing stability to the nation’s vitally important food supply chains.”

Agricultural businesses include businesses engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)). Eligible agricultural businesses must have 500 or fewer employees.

The SBA will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide unprecedented relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

For more information, please visit:

Save Small Business Fund Opportunity

Thanks to Cory at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center for sharing!

Via the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

The Save Small Business Fund is a grantmaking initiative offering short-term relief for small employers in the United States and its territories

Small businesses are the foundation of our communities and our economy. Employing nearly half the American workforce, companies like yours keep our neighborhoods running and make them feel like home.

Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the Save Small Business Fund is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as we can. We hope these supplemental funds will help you get through the next days and weeks.


  • Employ between 3 and 20 people
  • Be located in an economically vulnerable community editor’s note: (Choteau and the surrounding communities qualify)
  • Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic

Governor’s Office: COVID-19 Resources for Rural Montana

We understand that the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt throughout the state, and that the economic impacts of closures are going to be significant across the state, including for our rural communities. The intent of the Stay at Home Directive and all other directives is to limit exposure and flatten the curve of this virus. Although many rural communities have few cases, and the goal of all these measures is to keep it that way and reduce exposure as much as possible.

Below is a list of resources available for business, communities, and individuals during this time. We will continue to update this as more directives come out and we have updated information, including guidance regarding the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Please visit to State’s COVID-19 resource site for more information, as well as MT Department of Health and Human Services for updated information and current cases. You can also call the COVID Hotline at 1-888-333-

Economic and Business

  • The Coronavirus FAQ can also help answer questions regarding the directive and essential businesses.
  • If you still have business related questions, please call 1-800-755-6672
  • Keep an eye on the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Facebook page and the Montana Department of Commerce for updates regarding business assistance and other helpful resources.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance- are available for small businesses in all 56 counties in Montana. This program received a $10 billion expansion under the CARES Act and allows the SBA to provide a cash advance to the applying business. Businesses may now apply directly to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • Paycheck Protection Program: The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Find out more information here and the FAQ here.
  • Non-Profit- For non-profit specific questions and resources go to the Montana Non-Profits Association Website for COVID-19 non-profit response, FAQ’s, and updates. MNA provides several resources for nonprofits, including daily townhalls and COVID-19 relief information.


  • Unemployment- Unemployment benefits will be available to all Montanans who are sick, quarantined, or laid off because of the COVID-19 outbreak. DLI has set up a streamlined process and is waiving the usual 1 week waiting period to receive benefits. Visit: or call 444-2545.
    • Note: DLI Unemployment is experiencing an unprecedented call volume to their unemployment insurance claims processing help line and the agency is working hard to provide service to everyone. Please be patient.
    • Unless you have received official notification from Unemployment Insurance that you must call the call center, please search for your answer at in order to free up phone lines for folks who are required to call in.
    • If you are out of work or on reduced hours due to COVID-19, we encourage you to submit an unemployment insurance claim. Applicants can submit online at
  • The Federal CARES Act will also allow eligible individuals collecting unemployment to receive an additional $600 per week. Please see at for further guidance.
  • Self-employed, independent contractors, and others- Under the CARES Act will expand Unemployment Insurance Benefits to those not traditionally covered, including the self-employed, independent contractors, and others.
  • Note: DLI has received some guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on the
  • administration of this new program and is awaiting complete details, but they are still working through details and implementing steps to process claims. They are prepared to backdate unemployment assistance claims authorized under the CARES Act.
  • Employers- If you have questions about unemployment as an employer, please visit

Healthcare and Insurance

  • Uninsured Montanans will be covered for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
  • Governor Bullock has expanded access to telemedicine services for homebound Montana residents to help reduce visits to local hospitals and medical facilities, and for those who can’t make it out to facilities. For more information please see the Memo from DPHHS.
  • The Department of Public Health and Human Services offers an expansion of mental health services to help Montanans during COVID-19. See Resources listed below or visit the DPHHS Website
  • The Montana Warmline: The service provides early crisis intervention with emotional support that can prevent a crisis. The Warmline is available at 877-688-3377 or at Montana Warmline.
  • The Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is also available.
  • The Montana Crisis Text Line, which can be accessed by texting “MT” to 741741.

Childcare, Schools, and Education

  • Please visit the Office of Public Instruction COVID site for information about closures, school nutrition, emergency funding, testing, and more. Additional guidance can also be found here.
  • Childcare- Childcare is an essential business, and the Governor has provided additional guidance on childcare facilities to ensure that Montana’s essential workers can receive access to childcare during the state of emergency
  • College resources and information from Montana University System.
  • For a comprehensive list of resources, children’s activities, and tools for the community, child care providers, families, and employers, go to the Montana Child Care Connections COVID-19 resource page.
  • No Kid Hungry is offering emergency grants to support local school districts and nonprofit organizations in their efforts to ensure kids get the nutritious food they need.

Homeowners and Rental

  • Limiting evictions, foreclosures, and disconnections for the duration of the Stay at Home Directive. See Directive.
  • Low-Income Rental Assistance- The Directive adds to Governor Bullock’s temporary suspension of certain evictions, foreclosures and service disconnections by creating a program to provide rental assistance to households experiencing substantial financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • The Montana Department of Commerce shall administer a program to provide rent assistance to low-income Montanans who have suffered substantial financial hardship as a result of COVID-19
  • The program will also include relief funds specifically for households with children eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • • Housing- Montana Housing Guidance

Local Governments

• The Governor issued a Directive to waive the current requirement that local and county governments implement a 2-mill emergency levy in order to access new funding coming to the

state through the federal CARES Act.

• Increase flexibility by providing measures for the operation of local government.

• Elections- allowing local governments to conduct mail ballot elections and expand early voting.

• Other resources and information can be found at Montana League of Cities and Towns and

Montana Association of Counties.

Community Resources

• The Montana Community Foundation and local community foundations have set up Local

COVID-19 Funds. Find out more about your local COVID-19 Fund.

• Community Service- Organizations that provide charitable and social services are considered an

essential business when ‘providing food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life

for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance

as a result of this emergency, and people with disabilities’ per the Governor’s Directive. This

would not include regular church services or gatherings where social distancing would be too

difficult to maintain.

o Live stream/virtual church services are allowed. Limited staff may record services at the

church, but must follow social distancing.

• MSU Extension- Extension agents are in almost every county across the state and working online

to provide resources to help families, businesses, ranches and communities during this time.

Outdoor Recreation

  • Montanans are still allowed to recreate outdoors during the Stay at Home Directive. At this time, Montana State Parks, Fishing Access Sites and Wildlife Management Areas remain open to day-use. Social distancing applies, and respect for the resources is critical to keeping public lands open. Because travel exacerbates the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public should use public lands in their communities, and non-local travel to sites is strongly discouraged.
  • Check out Fish, Wildlife and Parks website for updates on closures, fishing, and hunting.
  • Remember, any person (resident or non-resident) coming to Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. If a person will be present in Montana for fewer than 14 days, that person must self-quarantine for the duration of the visit.

Directives & More information:

You can view all Directives here.

  • Stay at Home & Extension
  • 14-day Quarantine for travelers
  • Joint Information Center
  • State General COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-333-046
  • Tourism Informational Hotline: 1-800-847-4868
  • Website, details and maps: COVID19INFO@MT.GOV

Governor Bullock Announces Closure of Dine-In Food Service and Alcoholic Beverage Businesses, and Other Activities that Pose Enhanced Risks to Curtail Spread of COVID-19

The Teton County Sanitarian and the Teton County Health Department are available if you have any questions about this directive:

Teton County Health Department
(406) 466-2562

Austin Moyer
Teton County Sanitarian
(406) 466-2150

They recommend that all businesses prepare for the likely possibility that this directive will be extended beyond March 27th, and currently unaffected businesses should make preparations so that they are not blindsided by a similar order on all “non-essential” businesses. Unfortunately, we would not expect to get advanced notice regarding such an order, so businesses should make sure their employees understand what plans they have in place before they are needed.

This directive permits food delivery and takeout

To curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Montana, Governor Steve Bullock today announced measures to close dine-in food service and alcoholic beverage businesses and other activities that pose enhanced health risks, effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020. This Directive expires at 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020, the same day that school closures are set to expire, though the date will likely be extended.

“Both young and older Montanans, in urban and rural communities, have tested positive for coronavirus, making it even more clear that this virus impacts us all and that these actions are imperative to protecting our friends and neighbors,” said Governor Bullock. “We face extraordinary health risks – and with it even further risks to our economic and social well-being – if we do not act now. I do not take this decision lightly and it was done so in consultation with public health professionals. Montanans, too, need to take this seriously. It’s up to all of us to stop the spread of this virus.”

Under the Directive, the following places are closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public:

  • Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brewpubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Cigar bars.
  • Health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios, and indoor recreational facilities.
  • Movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls.
  • Casinos.

The places subject to this Directive are permitted and encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service, and to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing.

Read the Governor’s full directive:

COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses – Teton County Health Department

Dear Teton County Business Owners,

The Teton County Health Department is recommending all citizens take steps to limit unnecessary interactions between people. It is important for businesses to continue to provide valuable services to the community while enabling your customers and employees to practice social distancing. The CDC has recommended the following precautions:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.  Prevent the spread of illness within your business by having a non-punitive, flexible illness policy that allows ill employees to remain at home. Ill employees may have trouble getting a healthcare provider’s note as healthcare facilities restrict services to non-emergency situations. Employees who develop symptoms during work hours should be sent home.
  • Minimize exposure between employees with each other and the public. Consider flexible worksites and flexible work hours in order to reduce contact between individuals. Allowing employees to work from home or to work flexible hours will reduce the chance of spreading illness between employees by reducing the number of people in your business at one time. You should also evaluate what interaction with the general public is actually necessary. You should also provide options to the public who are practicing social distancing, such as doing curbside pick-up for food or changing in-person meetings to phone calls.
  • Provide a hygienic workplace. Employees should always have access to handwashing facilities and frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, workstations, countertops, points of sale, menus) should be wiped down with a disinfecting wipe multiple times per day. A solution of 1 gallon of water and 1/3rd cup of bleach will be sufficient for disinfecting surfaces.
  • Spread awareness. Use reliable sources to relay accurate information to your employees and customers so they can make informed, measured decisions. The CDC has several one-page fact sheets that should be posted around your establishment. They can all be found here, though we would recommend providing the What You Need To Know sheet to employees and posting the Symptoms of Coronavirus and Stop the Spread of Germs in visible locations. Keep up to date on the CDC’s guidance for employers.  Additionally, a printable flyer on social distancing has been attached.
  • Manage employee stress. Uncertainty about the pandemic can cause stress or anxiety in your workforce. Work with your employees to develop and implement a plan that addresses the above guidance. Employees should know how the business will deal with increased absenteeism and a change in demands in their lives, such as the sudden need for childcare.

Please contact the Teton County Health Department at 466-2562 if you have questions, or would like to discuss any specific modifications that you business can take.  We are happy to help!

Montana Department of Commerce: Coronavirus Taskforce Update

Montana Governor's Coronavirus Task Force

The state recognizes the substantial economic impact that some businesses have experienced due to novel coronavirus or COVID-19. The Department of Commerce in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration are working to hard to make emergency funding available for those businesses.

When disaster assistance will be available in Montana

  • If a small business has suffered substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19, it may be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Small businesses and small agricultural cooperatives that have suffered substantial economic injury may be eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
  • Substantial economic injury is the inability of a business to meet its obligations as they mature and to pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses.
  • An EIDL can help meet necessary financial obligations that a business could have met had the disaster not occurred.
  • It provides relief from economic injury caused directly by the disaster and permits the business to maintain a reasonable working capital position during the period affected by the disaster.
  • The SBA provides EIDL assistance only to those businesses that SBA determines are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
  • The loan amount will be based on the business’ actual economic injury and financial needs.
  • The interest rate on EIDLs is currently at 3.75 percent per year.
  • The term of the loans cannot exceed 30 years.
  • Terms and conditions will be determined by the business’ ability to repay the loan

Listed below is a step by step process for businesses that have experienced substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19

  1. Complete the Economic Injury Worksheets as soon as possible, click here to access the worksheet, and submit it to your county Disaster and Emergency Services, (DES) Office.
  2. If your county does not have a DES office or if you are unable to contact them, the worksheet can be sent to
  3. Your county DES office will submit the worksheet to the state, and the state will submit it to the SBA along with a request for an SBA declaration.
  4. Once the SBA has issued an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for your county, businesses will be eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
  5. Additional information on the loan program and how to apply can be found at the SBA website here.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail

Workplace Illness

With the nation and world all abuzz with the spread of Coronavirus, more specifically COVID-19, we should all be a bit more aware of how we are feeling. We must work together to ensure our community stays healthy as a whole. It is important that we all take precautions to prepare for COVID-19 potentially making it to Montana and even Choteau, but more importantly, these precautions should be exercised daily to prevent the spread of all illnesses. While it is not necessary to panic, it is important to be prepared through some simple steps.

Continue reading “Workplace Illness”