COVID-19 changes highlight state of Missoula discussion

Posted at 8:14 AM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 10:20:33-04

MISSOULA — Missoula City Club's monthly presentation looked a little different as it touched on a number of topics ranging from state law to Griz football during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants gathered virtually on Monday to talk about the state of Missoula with officials noting that that the pandemic has forced organizations to work together in new ways, ushering a new era of collaborations between entities.

A theme throughout the presentation was to settle in and be prepared to maintain this new “not normal” for a while as everyone continues to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community.

City Club of Missoula: State of the Community 2020

“This new, I think you called it the new not normal or maybe Suzan called it that -- I forget the terminology. It’s not a binary situation and what I mean by that it’s not totally lock down, and then we wait a while and then just completely open back up and its then back to ‘normal’. We are going to have to adapt the way we do things,” University of Montana President Seth Bodnar explained.

Bodnar also said there has been no decision on Griz football this year as they continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was also a question about who gives Missoula Public Health Officer Ellen Leahy the ability to control closures and reopenings in the Missoula community.

“It’s a relatively short answer, state law. Statute provides for health officers to be appointed. They report specifically to a health board that’s an appointed group of citizens,” Missoula Mayor John Engen explained. “And that health officer has authority to make these complicated decisions.”

Officials also stressed the importance of continuing to follow safe social distancing practices saying the guidelines are going to continue to keep our community safe.