As COVID-19 case counts rise steadily in Missoula County, the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) is issuing guidance to positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts. Currently, MCCHD is experiencing a four-day notification delay as contact tracers work to call thousands of close contacts to inform them they must quarantine. 

To limit the spread of COVID-19 in those four days, MCCHD is instructing positive cases to call their own close contacts to ask them to quarantine until the health department reaches out to them. In the meantime, we ask close contacts to standby without contacting us to be interviewed or schedule testing, as this slows down our operation. Vaccinated close contacts do need to quarantine until the health department has their proof of vaccination, and those close contacts should have their vaccination cards ready for when the health department calls. 

Furthermore, as cases have risen so has our demand for COVID-19 testing. MCCHD will only test residents experiencing symptoms or health department verified close contacts until further notice. This helps us prioritize testing and offer appointments in a timely matter for those who need it most. 

Lastly, MCCHD wants to remind the public that we have all the tools available to end this pandemic if we want to. The refusal of the rigorously tested, safe and effective FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine by a large portion of our eligible population is undoubtedly prolonging this pandemic, prolonging the strain on our health care workers and hospitals, and prolonging the economic suffering of our community. As of today, of all the vaccinated residents in Missoula County only 0.71% have experienced a breakthrough case of COVID-19. This means the vaccines work and we highly encourage everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccines. 

If a large enough portion of Missoula County’s population chooses to get vaccinated, wear a mask, limit their social circles, and wash their hands frequently this surge could reach more manageable numbers in just a few weeks. 

The health department’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Southgate Mall is open seven days a week; no appointment necessary. COVID-19 vaccine appointments are free to the insured and uninsured. Clinic staff are always available to sit down and discuss any questions or concerns a patient may have before they decide to get vaccinated.

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