MISSOULA — Members of the Missoula City Council met with the Missoula City-County Health Department on Wednesday morning to discuss the latest on COVID-19, better known as coronavirus.
Health Promotion Division Director Cindy Farr and Health Director Ellen Leahy covered the current number of cases, how to take precautions, and Missoula planning and response along with testing availability, and the request for collaboration with the response.
City Counselor Gwen Jones says she is impressed with the proactive response across the community for a disease that is almost certain to impact the area in the days and weeks to come,
“I think the most important thing is that the entities in Missoula that should be working together are working together. So, MCPS, the University, the city, the county -- and when you combine all of these resources, I think you have a much better response for the community," Jones said. "And for them to be comparing notes and getting all the best practices down so that when this virus is in Missoula, we have the best response possible.”
Jones added that she is impressed with how well Missoula County Public Schools has been communicating with the schools to changing behavior patterns including stressing more hand-washing.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information about coronavirus on their website, including the following:
CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concernexternal icon” (PHEIC). On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Source and Spread of the Virus
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have apparent community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, meaning some people have been infected who are not sure how or where they became infected. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.