Missoula Health Officer Responds to Governor Gianforte’s New Directive
On Wednesday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte issued a new directive to replace previous directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gianforte’s 3-page directive replaces over 25 pages and layers of existing directives. Missoula City-County Health Officer Ellen Leahy explained how this new directive will impact Missoula.
“The regular meeting is next Thursday and we will, as we do at every meeting with the board, review where we are with the epidemiology, where we are with community cooperation and compliance, and then also review that in relation to the changes that the governor made,” Leahy said. “So that's happening right now with our environmental health team and with our county attorney, and we do expect that we will propose at least one revision, but that revision is not yet ready. It's being discussed as we speak.”
Revive Missoula Bars and Restaurants is a new alliance and their goal is to reassure Missoula County residents that they are taking every possible measure to ensure a future for Missoula that is safe and inviting. Leahy shared her thoughts about the group.
“That is a self-starting group,” Leahy said. “It's a local group that, as their name says, wants to number one be safe and number two be able to keep their businesses operating through what has been and will continue to be for a little bit of time here very difficult conditions.”
On October 27th, 2020, the Missoula City-County Health Department and other community leaders set a goal for Missoula County to decrease its weekly average COVID-19 case count to no more than 25 cases per 100,000 individuals. Leahy explains why that goal was set and why it currently remains their top priority.
“The benchmark states that if you go above 25 new cases daily, and that's calculated on a seven day average because the seven day average gives you a sounder piece of data per 100 populations, that you do risk having more uncontrolled spread,” Leahy said.
According to Gianforte, his new directive repeals onerous, arbitrary regulations on Montana small businesses, including restrictions on hours of operation and capacity. Leahy said that is something the Missoula City-County Health Department will discuss next week.
“I am going to bring it all up with the board next Thursday,” Leahy said. “Because it is a public open meeting that requires advanced notice, as soon as we get any revisions we will make them, these are proposed, publicly available. We will definitely release them at the same time the board gets them.”
Governor Gianforte said, “We can reduce the burden on our small business owners while simultaneously protecting the health of Montana workers and customers. These are not mutually exclusive.”