The Missoula County Board of Health held nearly a three hour meeting on Thursday afternoon, and made some revisions to current COVID 19 requirements.

Director of Environmental Health at the Missoula City County Health Department, Shannon Therriault laid out the policy that will take effect on May 11.

“When at least 60% of the Missoula County residents 16 and older get at least one dose, the health officer may issue an order that face coverings are recommended instead of required,” said Therriault. “Upon issuance of the order, the mandatory face covering use rules would be rescinded.”

Therriault said the May 11 date honors those who have been proactive with vaccinations, but still offers time for others to be vaccinated.

“We’re honoring those people who just really just were very concerned and got in there right away, also knowing that not everybody could get an appointment right away,” she said. “And so this also would give more time for people to have received both their first and their second doses.”

Therriault said the new order has two advantages.

“We’re approaching it in two different ways,” she said. “One is the population approach and the other is the individual protection approach of somebody not wanting to be in a place where other people are not wearing face coverings because they have not yet had an opportunity to be protected by the vaccines,” she said.

Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci coined a phrase that refers to the vaccinations not as a light switch that goes on and off suddenly, but a dimmer switch that provides time for the vaccines to take hold. Therriault agreed.

“This would not be a rescinding of the face covering requirement, so much as it's the whole concept of the light switch,” she said. “It's not just flipping the light switch, it’s the dimmer approach, so the expectation and the hope is that most people in Missoula will still wear face coverings when it goes to recommendations, especially in public places where it's harder to maintain six foot distancing.”

The board also changed requirements to recommendations on businesses such as bars, restaurants, hair salons, gyms, fitness centers and other businesses, scaling them back to only recommendations.


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