Missoula leaders discuss coronavirus planning

Posted at 9:50 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 14:36:45-04

MISSOULA - Missoula health, school and political leaders held a press conference to discuss the latest coronavirus preparations.

Watch an extended video of the news conference above.

The event is planned for 11 a.m. in the Missoula City Council Chambers where the Incident Command team, local government, and school officials will talk about current actions and future planning. Part of the discussion will look at “risk reduction activities, and how to prepare for the disruptions that accompany pandemic disease,” according to a news release.

The scheduled speakers include Missoula City-County Health Officer Ellen Leahy, Incident Command Team leader Cindy Farr, Missoula Mayor John Engen, Missoula City Council President Bryan von Lossberg, Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Watson, University of Montana President Seth Bodnar and Missoula County Commission Chair Josh Slotnick.

The Montana University System announced on Thursday that colleges -- including the University of Montana -- will be transitioning to online learning beginning on March 23. Gov. Steve Bullock also declared a state of emergency related to the coronavirus. He also announced a new website, email address and phone line 1-888-333-0461 for all COVID-19 questions.

The Missoula City-County Health Department has more information about coronavirus on their website. More information is also available by calling (406) 258-INFO weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional information about coronavirus can be found on the CDC's website, including the following:

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk to the general public from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people; the severity of resulting illness; and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness). That this disease has caused severe illness, including illness resulting in death is concerning, especially since it has also shown sustained person-to-person spread in several places. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus.

It is important to note that current circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC’s risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Current risk assessment:

  • For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.

CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.