Despite the fact that Montana Governor Greg Gianforte announced that the statewide mask mandate will be allowed to expire on Friday, the mandate will remain in place in Missoula County, according to the City County Health Department.

COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr spoke to KGVO on Thursday afternoon.

“We do know that the Governor did make the announcement that as of tomorrow that he's lifting the statewide mask mandate, but we do want to just remind people that he did say that it is up to each individual local health jurisdiction to determine what's best for their area and whether or not they're going to continue a mask mandate,” said Farr. “I want to remind everyone that our Board of Health did adopt a mask mandate even prior to the previous governor’s statewide mask mandate, and that mandate is still in effect under the Board of Health regulations.”

Farr did say that the Missoula County Board of Health will consider the matter at its next meeting on Thursday.

“The Board of Health is going to be meeting next Thursday at 12:15 p.m. to discuss the matter,” she said. “It's their regular monthly Board of Health meeting but they will be discussing the restrictions that are currently in place and possibly making some changes to those restrictions, however, we do not expect that we're going to see the Board of Health remove the mask mandate for Missoula County.”

Farr said coincidentally, there has been a rise in COVID cases recently in Missoula County.

“Actually, in the last couple of days we've seen a little bit of an increase in the cases over previous days,” she said. “So we just want to remind everybody that that mask is meant to help protect against asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, and while the vaccine is rolling out, it's going to be quite a long time before we have enough vaccines available to our county for everyone to be protected.”

Farr said when the next level of vaccinations approaches, the county will phase in the next category of recipients.

“The Vaccine Coordination Team is collecting data from all of the vaccine providers about how many doses are given out, and we're comparing that to the number of people that we know fit into the current category that we're vaccinating,” she said. “When we start getting close to feeling like we're pretty close to the end of that category, then we'll be able to open it up to the next category.”

200 first-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments will open for online booking on Friday at 4 p.m. on covid19.missoula.co. These appointments will be for Monday at the former Lucky's Market in the Southgate Mall.

Farr reminded KGVO that the Missoula City County Health Department is working closely, but is separate from, the Vaccine Coordination Team which is affiliated with the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management. Both entities use the same website to arrange their vaccination clinics, that of COVID 19.missoula.co, and the central phone number of 258-INFO (4636).

 

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