Missoula City County Health Department COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr spoke to KGVO News on Monday for the first time in 2021 and answered several questions about Missoula and the pandemic as we begin the new year.

Farr said there is no information as yet on whether Missoula County has experienced an increase COVID 19 cases over the holiday season.

“Christmas sort of rolled into New Year and a lot of people have not wanted to get tested leading up to Christmas and between Christmas and New Year because they didn't want to have to get quarantined or isolated during the holidays,” said Farr. “And so we suspect that we might see an increase in people's willingness to get tested now that things are kind of getting back to the post-holiday normal and that we could potentially start to see an increase in the numbers of cases again.”

Farr said one small change in policy is in regards to the 14-day quarantine having been reduced to 10-days.

“Based on the CDC recommendation, basically it says that while a14 day quarantine period is definitely the safest route to take, however the studies and the research that's coming out of showing that the vast majority of people will develop symptoms within that first 10 days,” she said.

Farr said reports that getting the COVID 19 vaccine may be made mandatory are not coming from any state or local government agency, however, the private sector may make their own rules.

“Vaccines are never mandatory for people, however they may be made mandatory for things like school, such as for entry into education systems or for daycare centers,” he said. “However, that being said, some organizations such as health care provider offices or hospitals could make that decision to say that they want all of their staff to be vaccinated. So while it's not going to come from a higher government level, you know, it could be instituted at an organizational level.”

The vaccine distribution protocols are underway and frontline healthcare providers, along with residents and staff of rest homes and extended living centers are receiving the vaccine, but many are wondering how the general public will know when it’s their turn to be vaccinated.

“It's most likely it's going to be through the same channels of communication that we've been pushing out public information,” she said. “So obviously, we'll be talking about it and the media will be talking about it on Facebook, and it'll be on our webpage. So there's a variety of different ways that people will be able to find out about it. It's also quite possible that at some point health care providers may have the ability to vaccinate people and in that case, you may end up receiving a call from your health care provider saying, hey, we want you to come in and get vaccinated.”

In addition, the Missoula City County Health Department has issued a new form to aid frontline healthcare workers in getting vaccinated. Click this link for more information.


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