Missoula County now providing info about location of COVID-19 cases

Ellen Leahy.jpg
Posted at 7:52 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 19:19:53-04

MISSOULA — Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state, the Missoula City-County Health Department is now providing information on where the cases are coming from.

Officials are also asking people to continue to use physical distancing, wash those hands, and wear a mask.

On Monday, Montana had the highest single-day increase in cases yet with 56.

Missoula City-County Health Director Ellen Leahy said in a daily briefing on Monday, the spike was expected.

"Even those of us that expected this type of leap in spread, as we begin examining the cases, and seeing how quickly it happens, it can be very alarming," said Leahy.

On Tuesday, Leahy expanded, saying some of the increase in cases come from community spread, and some are clusters in the workplace.

"Coworkers then when they're on break, take their break, take their mask off, they're not public-facing," said Leahy. "The virus doesn't take a break."

Three restaurants have recently closed in Missoula due to sick employees.

The health department says its tracking down close contacts with the public.

"The person is interviewed," said Leahy. "They are asked about everything, every place they've been, everyone they've been within the last 14 days generally."

People who were in contact with the sick person are also interviewed. If they were a close contact, those people are quarantined and tested.

Leahy explains that, with community spread, it can be hard to trace the source when someone gets sick.

But, she says there are no cases related to protests in Missoula County, and cases that can be traced are from family gatherings, like reunions, funerals, parties.

"We don't have any cases related to protests," said Leahy. "This is happening among people we know. It's happening from coworker to coworker, from family member to family member."

Leahy says there is a plan in place for Missoula County to add stricter restrictions, like required masks, if the health department deems necessary.

"If it's a community-wide shuttering that we would have to look at, we would look at what is most appropriate based on the type of spread that we're seeing."

Leahy added that any decisions to implement extra restrictions would include guidance from the governor's office.