Missoula health officials update face mask mandate

Missoula City County Health Department
Posted at 3:47 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 14:01:44-04

MISSOULA — Missoula County’s COVID-19 situation has escalated over the past couple of weeks.

The Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) has updated its mask mandate in hopes of getting the numbers back down.

The age requirement has changed and effective immediately, masks are required in indoor, public spaces for anyone age five and older.

The term face-covering now includes enhanced face shields. Masks also must be worn when working inside private rooms or buildings.

Additionally, a person may remove their mask when giving a speech or performance for an audience as long as they are separated by at least 25 feet.

MCCHD states the accepted revisions to the local rule include the following:

  • People ages 5 and older in Missoula County are required to wear face-coverings as outlined in the rule.
  • The rule retains a more stringent prohibition against face shields due to lack of evidence that face shields are protective of others; and
  • Adds a definition and provision allowing enhanced face shields designed to capture respiratory droplets around the sides and bottom of the shield; and
  • Clarifies language for better consistency with the language used in the Governor’s directive; and
  • Refines language based on experience with interpreting and implementing the rule.

Click here to read the full order.

COVID Incident Commander Cindy Farr says there have been 599 new cases in the last 14 days alone.

She explained that in order to keep MCCHD from overwhelming its staff and resources the updated directive is crucial.

“We're currently tracking almost 1,300 close contacts. Close contact to a confirmed case continues to be the highest source of transmission, but we are starting to see that percentage of community spread creeping up. It's at 38% right now."

Farr added that they've had to triple the incident command staff to keep up with COVID-19 contact tracing.

Additionally, on Thursday, Missoula County issued an order to increase COVID-19 prevention efforts in retirement homes and long-term care and assisted living facilities.