Missoula County senior facilities facing tighter COVID-19 restrictions

COVID-19 Warning sign
Posted at 12:32 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 14:32:06-04

MISSOULA — Missoula County has issued an order to increase COVID-19 prevention efforts in retirement homes and long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Missoula City-County Health Officer (MCCHD) Ellen Leahy released the official order -- which goes into effect on Oct. 16 -- on Thursday.

The "new, data-informed prevention requirements are a mitigation measure to reduce and control COVID-19 exposure and transmission in places that older adults reside, live, and are cared for," according to a news release.

Visitors will not be allowed inside facilities, residents and patients will wear cloth face coverings, and staff will wear even more protective equipment when in these facilities under the new order. The order also limits communal dining and group activities and expands the criteria for testing and quarantine and isolation.

Missoula County has seen an increasing number of active cases with a large number of close contacts in the past few weeks. While the majority of active cases continue to affect younger adults, ages 20-39, cases are also increasing in older adults residing in the county.

“Numerous congregate care and residential facilities serve residents and patients of advanced age in Missoula County,” Leahy said. “With more than 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases currently associated with residents, patients, and staff at facilities like these, additional required prevention measures are now needed to better protect individual and public health.”

People between the ages of 75-and-84 are a "COVID priority population" under guidelines issues by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new requirements are in addition to Gov. Steve Bullock's directive and other applicable requirements. "Facilities with more specific health officer orders due to the presence of COVID-19 will follow the most restrictive requirements of such orders," the release states.

Click here to read the full health order (pdf).