Positive COVID 19 cases have been discovered on the University of Montana campus.

Spokesperson Paula Short made the announcement late Thursday afternoon.

“Across the state and in Missoula County included, we are experiencing an uptick in the number of confirmed COVID tests,” said Short. “The purpose of today’s message was again to alert the community that our campus is certainly, as part of the greater Missoula community, is not immune to having COVID cases, and in fact we do have some cases in our community.”

Short said the Missoula City County Health Department has begun the process of determining how the virus was contracted and who else may be affected.

“My understanding is that with these individual cases that contact tracing is underway,” she said. “City County (Health Department) has the lead for that. The university is certainly ready to assist, and that was the goal of our campus message today was to be proactive in reminding people that as cases continue to be high across the state and in Missoula County as well that the university is also impacted by COVID 19.”

When asked how many cases on campus were confirmed, Short said this.

“Statistical information on positive cases at the university are rolled up in the Missoula County reporting, so the Missoula County Health Department has the responsibility to record the number of COVID cases countywide, which would include ours, as well.”

Below, find the full email message sent to the UM campus community:

'I write today to share with you that Missoula has seen, over the past 24 hours, an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19, and this includes cases within our campus community. Missoula City-County Health Department is the lead agency for providing statistical data for cases in the county, including our campus, as well as the lead for contact tracing and notification of those identified as having potential exposure to confirmed positive cases. If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you will be notified by the county.

I want to thank our Health Advisory Group, Curry Health Center and the Campus Preparedness and Response Group for their work to prepare us for positive cases on campus. Through our proactive efforts regarding COVID-19, Curry now is able to perform rapid testing to identify positive cases, which greatly improves UM’s ability to respond to COVID-19.

Please know that we always will endeavor to be proactive in our communications regarding COVID-19 prevalence, exposure risks and our campus response. At the same time, we will do so while continuing to protect individual privacy and the rights of patients with regard to their medical information.

If a confirmed case on campus results in an elevated risk to our community at large – where a mass communication would complement the contact tracing done by the county – we will work with Missoula City-County Health Department to provide timely information with as much detail as we are able. Individual cases will not always rise to this level of response. We wanted to share information today for two reasons: First, to share that our campus is being impacted by positive COVID-19 cases, and, second, to provide information on what our campus community members should expect in terms of information sharing around new positive cases. All updates will be posted on the University’s COVID-19 website.

This is a reminder of the pervasiveness of novel coronavirus and the need for our collective vigilance. Please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask and exercise social distancing per the CDC guidance. You’ll find the most updated version of the UM Healthy Fall 2020 Plan, along with campus communications and other updates, on the COVID-19 website.’

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