Several experts in their fields addressed the public at a COVID 19 press conference in the Missoula City Council Chambers on Friday afternoon.

Among the attendees were Mayor John Engen, County Commissioner Josh Slotnik, Dean French, CEO or Community Medical Center, Joyce Dombrouski, Chief Executive at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, UM President Seth Bodnar, MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson and Adriane Beck Missoula County Disaster and Emergency Services Director.

One of the sought after voices that haven’t yet been heard publicly was St. Patrick Hospital’s Joyce Dombrouski, who emphasized the need to conserve personal protective equipment for her staff to deal with the surge of COVID patients to come.

“We’re so concerned with the safety of our caregivers and our patients,” said Dombrouski. “It is our number one priority. Our goal is to make sure that we’re appropriately conserving our personal protective equipment. You heard Dr. (Dean) French (of Community Medical Center) mention that it really is the one thing we’ve been focused on for the last week, if not two weeks, the conservation of personal protective equipment. That has led us to be consistent in eliminating elective surgeries, elective tests, and really challenging ourselves to put ourselves in the best possible position for what we know to be a surge that we know will be coming at a point that we honestly can’t identify.”

Also presenting was MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson who addressed the district’s plans to get food to students starting on Monday.

“We are ready to go with food service on Monday,” said Watson. “Our staff worked very hard this week. The last count I heard was 6,000, that’s six with three zeroes, 6,000 sandwiches that were prepared this week to get us up and ready for Monday.”

Watson outlined the delivery plan for next week.

“This is how we’re going to do the food delivery option for our kiddos,” he said. “We will have four school sites where people can stop by and pick up food, but we will also be delivering via school bus, so our transportation company, Beach Transportation has done an excellent job in helping us to plan this.”

Watson laid out the schedule for next week, when children would ordinarily be in school.

“Starting Monday between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. our buses will actually be driving their regular bus routes and they’ll be stopping at their regular bus stops to distribute the food. We found that this would be better to get food to our community because those bus stops are in neighborhoods and closer to homes where kids could walk and pick up the food. I also want to mention that this food is open to anybody. There are no qualifications. There are no income qualifications, no age level qualifications. You don’t have to worry about qualifying for free or reduced fee lunches. This food is open to any child.”

The press conference was hosted by Mayor John Engen and County Commission Chair Josh Slotnik.

The entire meeting can be viewed here.

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