Governor Steve Bullock’s office just released a new online complaint form for Montanans  to notify public health officials of COVID 19 violations.

Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy told KGVO News on Friday that the Governor’s office had not notified the Missoula City County Health Department of the new complaint form; however, she said that local officials already have a mechanism to investigate non-compliant businesses.

We're also doing it with enforcement and education and we've seen that we've stepped up our enforcement recently. But despite that, we are continuing to ascend in cases and if you look at the state, the entire state is ascending.

“We are continuing to try to address it with usual means of testing and informing people if they are positive and then monitoring for isolation,” said Leahy. “We're also doing it with enforcement and education and we've seen that we've stepped up our enforcement recently. But despite that, we are continuing to ascend in cases and if you look at the state, the entire state is ascending.”

Leahy said some businesses require more attention than others when a complaint is received.

“We were seeing some repeat areas where that amount of enforcement was not adequate to change the behavior,” she said. “So we went up to more unannounced visits at the times of day that some of the complaints were being observed by others and reported to us, and we did find the areas of non compliance.”

Leahy said there have been some orders for businesses to be closed until compliance can be achieved.

“We have issued a number of those, and we've had I think six or seven closures,” she said. “Two of those places have already opened up. They were required to close long enough to take stock of the situation, come up with a plan to comply like exactly how are you going to comply? That usually includes staff training, signage, and then when we approve that plan and they open back up.”

Even though Leahy appreciated the fact that Governor Bullock had made an avenue for complaints available, she said Missoula has had a very simple and easy contact form for some time.

“The most efficient way to make a comment is just to use our feedback portal on our new website, which is Missoula Info.com,” she said. “The first thing that's going to come up is that feedback portal and you can say, ‘I didn't like what I was seeing here’, but if you have a very specific complaint, that can go on an email to environmental health, and that is the ‘envhealth@ missoula county.us’. And that will go directly into the Environmental Health Division be registered as a complaint.”

Leahy and COVID Incident Commander Cindy Farr have said that more severe restrictions could be implemented as soon as next week in order to stem the tide of positive COVID 19 cases and deaths in Missoula County.