Here are our press releases and other key COVID news.
Oct. 8, 2021
Missoula County again broke several COVID-19 records on Friday, Oct. 8. This comes on the heels of the community breaking COVID-19 records several times in the month of September. The records broken today include daily COVID-19 cases at 178 and the incidence rate of 96 cases per 100,000 people per day over the last seven days. Missoula County is one hospitalization short of tying the patient record of 57. Furthermore, seven Missoula County residents have died from the virus since Monday, Oct. 4.
While this surge appears to be plateauing in other parts of the nation, health officials warn we may not see that happen in Montana which remains one of the few states in the nation with less than 50% of its population fully vaccinated.
Health officials say vaccination is the best way to ensure an individual does not end up seriously ill or hospitalized due to the virus. The health department’s vaccination site at the Southgate Mall is open seven days a week and accepting walk-ups and appointments for first and second dose patients. Residents seeking third doses or booster doses must make an appointment. The clinic’s hours and a link to make appointments can be found on missoulainfo.com.
Oct. 7, 2021
Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) is implementing several changes to its case investigation and contact tracing efforts to streamline the processes for the public and health department staff.
Starting this week, residents identified as positive cases or close contacts will receive a text message from the health department with a link to a form they must fill out. This process is largely replacing the phone call notification system, however residents without cell phones will still be notified with a phone call. MCCHD does not want the public to confuse these text messages with spam or phishing attempts. Website links sent by the health department will begin with “http://missoula.co” and residents with questions regarding their forms are welcome to call 406-258-INFO.
Over the next few weeks, the health department will also redesign its missoulainfo.com website. MCCHD will make the website easier for the public to navigate and include instructions and/or advice on common situations cases, close contacts and others find themselves in regarding COVID-19. Through these changes the health department’s goal is to create a more efficient and positive experience for the residents it serves.
Oct. 6, 2021
Seeley Lake Residents: Mark your calendars! Another free COVID-19 vaccine clinic is coming to town on Wednesday, Oct. 20, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Community Foundation Building located at 3150 Hwy 83 N. Residents ages 12 and older are welcome. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be available. MCCHD will provide first, second and booster doses to those who qualify.
Who qualifies for a Pfizer booster?
• Patients aged 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities, ages 18+.
• Patients aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
• Patients aged 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure because of their occupational setting.
• Boosters are solely for patients who received the Pfizer vaccine. Right now, boosters have not been authorized for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
• There must be at least six months between a patient’s second dose and booster dose.
Sept. 27, 2021
Missoula County is sad to announce we have lost 11 residents to COVID-19 in just the past week. This has brought the death toll to 127 residents. The staff at the Missoula City-County Health Department send our condolences to all our local families suffering the loss of a loved one. We encourage everyone to do their part to keep family, friends, neighbors and loved ones safe. Consider getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, keeping your social circles small and washing your hands frequently.
Sept. 27, 2021
On Monday, Sept. 27, the Missoula City County Health Department started offering booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to eligible county residents. Missoula City County Health Department COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr said the boosters will be available at the department’s vaccine site at Southgate Mall.
“We’re looking forward to helping county residents, but it’s important to remember there are some limitations to the boosters,” Farr said.
Boosters are for patients aged 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities, ages 18+.
They are also authorized for patients aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
They are also authorized for patients aged 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure because of their occupational setting.
Boosters are solely for patients who received the Pfizer vaccine. Right now, boosters have not been authorized for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
There must be at least six months between a patient’s second dose and booster dose.
At the MCCHD clinic at Southgate Mall, booster shots will be available by appointment only. The health department is asking county residents to be sure to bring along their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Appointments are available by calling 258-INFO (4636), option 3 or online at covid19.missoula.co.
“Making appointments will help us ensure we have adequate staffing and supplies,” Farr said. “Our goal is to have each appointment be as safe, comfortable and smooth as possible.”
Farr noted that there has been confusion between the recently approved booster shots and third doses. Since late August, third doses have been authorized for immunocompromised patients. Those shots – of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – are authorized solely for patients with compromised immunity. MCCHD has administered about 400 of those third doses to eligible patients.
“We’ve had lots of questions about the differences between boosters and third doses,” Farr said. “The third shots are for a fairly small number of patients, while the boosters approved this month are available to the groups authorized by the FDA and CDC.”
Farr said the vaccine center also continues to offer first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots, and patients may either make an appointment or walk in for those. The Southgate site is out of the Janssen vaccine until further notice.
Sept. 24, 2021
The Missoula City-County Health Department is seeing an influx of residents showing up at its 301 W. Alder St. location in person asking for COVID-19 testing while symptomatic. The health department would like to remind the community that no tests are offered at the health department’s main offices. Additionally, we are asking symptomatic people to stay out of the health department’s main offices so they do not potentially expose our staff to COVID-19.
The health department only conducts testing via appointment at 4025 Flynn Lane. Appointments can be made by calling 406-258-INFO (4636). All residents who show up at the main health department building will be turned away.
Sept. 24, 2021
The health department's vaccine clinic at the Southgate Mall is hoping to be able to provide booster doses of Pfizer to qualifying individuals on Monday, Sept. 27. Booster shots will be available by appointment only-- no walk-ins. We will share an update to this page on how to schedule your booster appointment on Monday afternoon.
To learn if you will be eligible for a booster dose, read this press release from the CDC.
Sept. 20, 2021
On Monday, Sept. 20, Missoula County’s COVID-19 hospitalization record, active case record and incidence rate record were shattered for the second week in a row as the latest wave of COVID-19 continued to batter local hospital systems.
In Missoula County, 50 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 1,386 residents currently have the virus and the average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days reached a new height of 89.
Health officials say this latest surge is showing no signs of slowing down. “This is the absolute worst we have seen it since the pandemic started,” explains COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr, “we cannot continue in this direction for the safety of the community.”
Frustrating health officials even more so, is that they say there is no good reason for the community to be in this position with there being a safe, effective and free COVID-19 vaccine available to everyone 12 and older.
“The data are clear and the data show this latest wave is hitting communities with low vaccination levels. We’re proud that Missoula County has the highest vaccination rate in the state of Montana, but in the grand scheme of things, the vaccination rate is nowhere near a level that would be considered herd immunity,” says Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.
Health officials say herd immunity would be upwards of 75% of all residents getting vaccinated. In addition to getting vaccinated, residents should wear a mask in public, wash their hands and keep their social circles small. These mitigation measures are proven to be effective at slowing the spread.
“We cannot get past this pandemic if it continues to be about pro-vaccine people versus anti-vaccine people,” says Barnett, “you either want to see this virus win or you want to see our community win. We can and will beat this if enough people get vaccinated.”