MISSOULA — Gov. Greg Gianforte announced on Wednesday that the statewide mask mandate will be lifted beginning on Friday.
However, local health departments still have the authority to enforce stricter COVID-19 restrictions.
Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) officials confirmed on Thursday that the local mask mandate will remain in effect.
"I just want to remind everyone we actually did have a mask mandate in Missoula County prior to the previous governor putting a statewide mask mandate into place,” Missoula County COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr explained.
A (MCCHD) statement says that “when the science suggests it is safe to repeal a mask mandate, Missoula County will do so, but that time is not now.”
"I know we're all over it. We're tired of hearing about COVID, we're tired of having to practice prevention,” Farr said.
Farr added that local health officials will continue to let science guide the decisions they make,” it's really very effective at preventing transmission."
She also says we likely won't repeal the mandate until we reach herd immunity.
"If we don't see an increase in either the production in vaccine -- or the number of manufacturers out there - it's going to be years before we make it to that point,” Farr told MTN News.
Farr says the health department has the capacity to distribute 500 doses of vaccine per day at just one Missoula County clinic, “the problem is we're not getting 500 doses a day."
The Board of Health will hold a special public meeting to consider lifting some other restrictions, such as group size and business capacity, next Thursday. But Farr noted that she doesn't expect the mask mandate to change.
All of the same restrictions remain in effect in Missoula County, including group size limitations and guidance for businesses.
People who wish to submit public comment ahead of next week’s meeting can do so online here.