After hinting at new restrictions, Missoula County health officials are expected to issue new orders on Tuesday intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, which continues to set new records in Missoula and across the state.
On Monday, Missoula County reported 153 new COVID cases since Friday and are monitoring more than 1,170 close contacts. The number of active cases has risen to 689, the highest figure recorded thus far.
That’s up from less than 100 close contacts in mid-September.
“Of the 689 active cases, 52 are associated with University of Montana staff, faculty and students,” said Cindy Farr, the county’s incident commander. “Twenty-six individuals are hospitalized with COVID-related complications in Missoula County facilities.”
The county has recorded 10 virus-related deaths so far, and 64% of all cases stem from close contact to a confirmed case. Only 5% are attributed to travel and 31% are considered community spread.
Health Officer Ellen Leahy issued new orders in mid-October to slow the spread of the virus in area nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Last week, she said she was reviewing possible new orders, which are expected on Tuesday.
They’ll likely include a reduction in the capacity permitted at certain businesses, and a reduction in the maximum number of people who can gather at events. The county has scheduled an afternoon press conference with local education, economic and health officials.
The situation is equally dire across Montana, which recorded 622 new cases on Monday. State health officials are monitoring more than 9,800 active cases and 360 patients remain hospitalized.
The state passed the 300 mark on Monday with the number of fatalities growing to 303. Yellowstone County remains the state’s hot spot, following Cascade and Flathead counties.
Bullock also has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday where he’s expected to provide an update on the statewide response. He’ll be joined by health officials, who will discuss how the current rate of transmission is impacting nursing homes and assisted living facilities.