MISSOULA — Local health officials are expanding the criteria of who can be tested at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed additional common symptoms of COVID-19 which prompted the Missoula County testing site to expand testing criteria.
In addition to cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, the health department added chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
“We hope that this expansion will help us identify milder cases in our population so that we can do contact tracing,” said Cindy Farr, Incident Commander for the health department’s COVID-19 response.
Now included are Missoula County residents and healthcare workers having any of the symptoms listed on the CDC website including the following:
- fever over 100.4
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- repeated shaking with chills
- muscle pain
- new loss of taste or smell
Tests are free and by appointment only. Anyone who has symptoms -- or are caring for someone with symptoms -- and would like to schedule a test can call (406) 258-INFO and select Option 2 to speak to a nurse.
The testing site call center is taking calls on Mondays-Thursdays to schedule appointments for Tuesdays-Fridays.
Farr points out that with businesses opening up and the stay at home order rescinded that prevention comes down to social distancing and contact tracing, “we need a broader ability to test, and expanding symptoms allows us to do that.”
Local health officials say they are concerned that as things open up, unidentified milder cases could spread the illness to others, including those who are at higher risk for complications.
“We could end up with a spike in cases and some very sick individuals," Farr said.