University of Montana affected by increase of COVID-19 cases

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 21:16:53-04

MISSOULA — The University of Montana sent out a news release Thursday afternoon saying it has been affected by recent positive COVID-19 cases in Missoula County.

In the release, Jeff Adams, the medical director at the Curry Health Center, sent out a note warning the UM community about the recent increase. The letter reads as follows:

"I write today to share with you that Missoula has seen, over the past 24 hours, an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19, and this includes cases within our campus community. Missoula City-County Health Department is the lead agency for providing statistical data for cases in the county, including our campus, as well as the lead for contact tracing and notification of those identified as having potential exposure to confirmed positive cases. If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you will be notified by the county.

"I want to thank our Health Advisory Group, Curry Health Center and the Campus Preparedness and Response Group for their work to prepare us for positive cases on campus. Through our proactive efforts regarding COVID-19, Curry now is able to perform rapid testing to identify positive cases, which greatly improves UM’s ability to respond to COVID-19.

"Please know that we always will endeavor to be proactive in our communications regarding COVID-19 prevalence, exposure risks and our campus response. At the same time, we will do so while continuing to protect individual privacy and the rights of patients with regard to their medical information.

"If a confirmed case on campus results in an elevated risk to our community at large – where a mass communication would complement the contact tracing done by the county – we will work with Missoula City-County Health Department to provide timely information with as much detail as we are able. Individual cases will not always rise to this level of response. We wanted to share information today for two reasons: First, to share that our campus is being impacted by positive COVID-19 cases, and, second, to provide information on what our campus community members should expect in terms of information sharing around new positive cases. All updates will be posted on the University’s COVID-19 website.

This is a reminder of the pervasiveness of novel coronavirus and the need for our collective vigilance. Please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask and exercise social distancing per the CDC guidance. You’ll find the most updated version of the UM Healthy Fall 2020 Plan [], along with campus communications and other updates, on the COVID-19 website []."

UM did not specify how many people have tested positive nor whether they were faculty or students. UM rolled out its fall plan last Friday.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.