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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), and the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) are closely monitoring the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), a respiratory illness. The disease is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and has now spread to many countries, including the US.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, we ask that community remain calm.

For additional information, please call our hotline at 406-258-INFO.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Last update: March 31, 2020 - 3:30 PM

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Basics

What is the coronavirus disease?

Why is the disease being called Coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?

Has anyone tested positive for COVID-19 in Montana?

How It Spreads 

How does it spread?

What does isolation and quarantine mean, and when does that happen?

Who Is Most at Risk

Who is most susceptible to COVID-19?

Are pregnant women at increased risk?

Can COVID-19 cause problems during pregnancy?

What is the risk for people with asthma?

What is the risk for people with HIV?

How to Protect Yourself

How can I prevent myself and others from getting it?

Can wearing a mask protect me from getting it?

What cleaners and disinfectants effective against COVID-19?

Is there a vaccine or treatment for coronavirus disease?

What about hydroxhchloroquine?

Can I take chloroquine phosphate to protect myself from COVID-19?

Should I make homemade hand sanitizer?

What Older Adults and Their Family Caregivers Should Know - Link to The John A. Hartford Foundation - Dedicated to Improving the Care for Older Adults

Symptoms & Testing

What are the symptoms?

What should I do if I think that I have it?  / Where can I get screened?

When should I get tested for COVID-19 disease?

What is health department doing to prepare for COVID-19 disease?

Are people being tested for the disease?

Work and Public Spaces

What can I do to protect my employees in the workplace? 

My boss wants me to get tested due to recent travel in the US, is this recommended by the health department?

What does social distancing mean?

What does physical distancing mean?

What does the governor's directive say about social distancing?

Should I avoid public spaces?

Should I stay home from work, school, or restrict my everyday activities?

When can someone, who tested positive for COVID-19, return to work?

What businesses and public spaces have been ordered to close?

Are social, civic, or faith-based gatherings restricted? 

Why aren't aren't all non-essential businesses closed?

Information for Restaurants and Food Service Establishments - PDF

How to support physical (social) distancing between customers in retail food establishments - PDF

Can I still recreate on public lands? What's currently closed?

Travel Related Questions

I traveled to Oregon or Washington, do I need to get tested or call the health department?

Do travelers coming into Montana need to self-quarantine?  

Is the health department currently monitoring the health of travelers who have returned from overseas?

Should I suspend my travel plans?

School Questions

Missoula County Public Schools Frequently Asked Questions

What goes into a decision to close a school?

When will schools reopen?

Take Out and Drive-Thru Questions

What are the risks of food from takeout or drive-thru?

What are the risks of food delivered to home?

Can I get COVID-19 from touching food or packaging exposed to coronavirus?

What happens in your body if you do ingest coronavirus through food?

Volunteering Questions

Do Missoula hospitals want homemade (home sewn) masks?

I made home sewn masks. Where can I take them?

Where can I acquire home sewn masks?

Stay At Home Directive

Where can I read the governor's full Stay At Home Directive?

What are the social distancing requirements in the Stay At Home Directive?

Can I leave my home or residence if I’m in a dangerous home situation?

Can I go outside?

What is an essential business or operation?

What are essential activities?

What is essential travel?

What are minimum basic operations?

What social distancing measures are required by essential businesses and nonessential businesses engaged in minimum basic operations?

 

What is the coronavirus disease?

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new respiratory disease that can spread from person-to-person. It was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak of respiratory illness in Wuhan, China.

 

Why is the disease being called Coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practices for naming of new human infectious diseases.

 

Has anyone tested positive for COVID-19 in Montana?

The first positive cases in Montana were announced on 03/13/20. They were residents of Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silverbow, and Lewis and Clark Counties. Missoula's first cases were announced on 03/14/20.

Missoula County Press Briefing - 03/15/2020

Additionally, the Maryland Governor’s Office released information on 03/11/20 that a Montana resident tested positive for COVID-19. While this will count as a Montana case, the person diagnosed has not been in Montana for several months, meaning that they didn’t contract it in Montana or expose anyone in the state. The Department of Public Health and Human Services will communicate additional details in a future media release. 

Check the DPHHS webpage for up-to-date numbers.

 

How does it spread?

The virus spreads through droplets that have the virus, either by close contact with people who are infected with the virus or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread if someone touches a surface contaminated with the virus and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes.

 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can be mild to severe and show 2-14 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever greater than 100.4ºF, cough, and shortness of breath.

 

How can I prevent myself and others from getting it?

While there is no vaccine yet for the disease, you can decrease your risk of getting the COVID-19 by doing the same things you do to prevent the season cold or flu. These preventive actions include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with EPA-approved products that say they are effective against human coronavirus, CoV-2, or Sars-like viruses. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds-- especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not travel to areas identified as being at elevated risk for the virus. 
  • Practice social distancing.

If you do get sick, you can help stop the spread of illness in our community and protect your loved ones by doing the following:

  • Stay home if you are ill, except to get medical care. Please call your health care provider before visiting them and let them know that you may have COVID-19.
  • Separate yourself as much as possible from other people in your home to prevent spreading it to them.
  • Wear a face mask if you have symptoms when going to seek medical care. The mask will minimize the spread of droplets through coughing and sneezing.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Do not share personal household items like dishes, drinking glasses, towels, or bedding, unless they are thoroughly washed.
  • Follow any additional guidance from the health department or a medical provider.

 

Can wearing a mask protect me from getting it?

It is not recommended that you wear a mask unless directed to do so by a medical professional or if you are already symptomatic and trying to prevent spreading illness on your way to the doctor. 

Additionally, misuse of mask diverts them from from those who need them most such as healthcare workers and medical professionals.

 

What should I do if I think I have it? / Where should I go for screening?

If you think that you have COVID-19, DO NOT call or come to the health department as we do not have the resources to test or treat you. Please do not go to the Emergency Room unless your symptoms are life-threatening.

Instead, use the Focused Screening Centers and other resources below:

Community FirstCare, North Reserve - Adults (age 18+)
2230 N. Reserve St., Suite 402
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Check-in online: communityfirstcare.com

Community FirstCare, Downtown - Children (newborn through 17) and parents
323 E. Front St
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Check-in online: communityfirstcare.com

Providence Grant Creek Walk-In Clinic 
3075 N. Reserve St., Suite Q
Hours 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 
If the patient is experiencing symptoms, please call in advance: 406-327-1750.

Cost Care
3031 Russell Street
Hours 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday 
If the patient is experiencing symptoms, please call in advance: 406-728-5841

If it's the weekend and the patient is experiencing symptoms, please call the Mullan location at 406-541-3046

 

Community Medical Center: Call the complementary 24/7 Nurse on Call for symptom evaluation, 406-327-4770. Patients with symptoms should call in advance of visiting the hospital or any clinic.

Partnership Health Center: Patients with symptoms should call the main line at
406-258-4789 before visiting a PHC site. 

Providence Clinics – Call your primary care clinic for symptom evaluation. After hours/weekends, call the main clinic number or 1-855-PMG-TEAM (1-855-764-8326) for nurse on call. 

Online Public Screening Tools – Visit the Providence Montana website for a “Live Chat” assessment tool available 24/7

Virtual Public Screening – Providence ExpressCare Virtual website

 

 

 

Is there a vaccine or treatment for the COVID-19 disease?

There are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. At present, clinical management includes infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplementary oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support.  An array of drugs approved for other conditions as well as several investigational drugs are being studied in several hundred clinical trials that are underway across the globe.

On March 28, 2020, the FDA  authorized the emergency use of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate for treatment of COVID-19 when clinical trials are not available, or participation is not feasible. 

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time.

 

What about hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are oral prescription drugs that have been used for treatment of malaria and certain inflammatory conditions. Based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries. Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have known safety profiles with the main concerns being cardiotoxicity (prolonged QT syndrome) with prolonged use in patients with hepatic or renal dysfunction and immunosuppression but have been reportedly well-tolerated in COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine is currently under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19. In the United States, several clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection are planned or will be enrolling soon. 

On March 28, 2020, the FDA  authorized the emergency use of chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate for treatment of COVID-19 when clinical trials are not available, or participation is not feasible.  

 

Can I take chloroquine phosphate to protect myself from COVID-19?

The CDC issued a warning that using chloroquine phosphate without a prescription and the supervision of a health care provider can have serious consequences. Two people died from ingesting non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate. There are currently no routinely available pharmaceutical products that are FDA-approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

Should I make homemade hand sanitizer?

There is a lot of misleading information on the internet about making homemade hand sanitizer. Some of the recipes do not provide a high enough percentage of alcohol to be effective, while others do not take into account skin protection. Proper hand washing is still be best preventive tool. Hand sanitizers do not clean hands, and the dirtier your hands are the hand sanitizer may not be as effective. Hand sanitizers can also be harsh on your hands, especially when made incorrectly, leading to hands that burn with subsequent hand sanitizer use or hand washing, making good hand hygiene harder to do. 

Until better guidance is provided by CDC, make hand washing the priority or use commercially-made hand sanitizer.

 

What is health department doing to prepare for the COVID-19 disease?

The health department has been preparing since things started to expand overseas. The department initiated Incident Command to ensure an organized and connected approach within MCCHD and with state and local partners. In addition, the health department has been in contact with the state, local hospitals and emergency services, and schools. After researching the virus and connecting with state and local partners, MCCHD created an action plan and tested it using preparedness exercises. The department is also hiring additional staff for communications and response needs.

As this is an evolving situation, the health department will continue to monitor the event and meet regularly with community partners and other agencies to ensure that our community is ready. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.

 

When should someone get tested for COVID-19?

The health department does not test for COVID-19.

If you are concerned that you have COVID-19, call one of the focused screening centers, the Ask a Nurse line, or use an online screening resource through Providence. Please call before you visit a provider.

Please do not go to the ER for testing.

If you do not have symptoms, you do not need to be tested, even if you think that you have been exposed.

If you think that you have been exposed, but have not been contacted by the health department or developed symptoms, you do not need to be tested.

 

What does isolation and quarantine mean, and when does that happen?

Isolation is when sick people are separated from those who aren't sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who are exposed to a contagious disease, like COVID-19, in case they do become sick. Here's a convenient one-pager to explain these terms (pdf).

These measures are used only when needed to protect public health while respecting the rights of the affected.

 

Who is most susceptible to COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have heart disease with complications
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [(BM]I)≥40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

Are pregnant women at increased risk?

We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public, nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.  It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.

Visit the CDC’s page for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding for more information:.

Can COVID-19 cause problems during pregnancy?

We do not know at this time if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.

Visit the CDC’s page for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding for more information:.

 

What is the risk for people with asthma?

People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.
For more information and recommendations for persons with asthma, please visit the CDC’s page for people with asthma.

 

 

What is the risk for people with HIV?

The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for people with HIV is currently unknown.  The CDC will be updating their page for persons with HIV as information becomes available.  Please visit the CDC’s page for persons with HIV for advice and answers to some frequent questions.

 

What cleaners and disinfectants effective against COVID-19?

Current information from the WHO and the CDC indicates that many standard household disinfectants are effective. The CDC recommends looking on disinfectants and seeing if they are effective against human coronavirus, SARS-like viruses, or CoV-2.

It is believed that a 70% alcohol or a bleach solution of 1/3 cups per gallon of water or 4 tsp per quart of water will work.  The bleach solution should be changed daily or made fresh before use.

EPA-registered products that are effective.

 

Are people being tested for the disease?

Yes. As of March 27, more than 500 Missoula County residents have been tested for COVID-19. 

Testing for COVID-19 requires a health provider order. Providers screen for symptoms and rule out other respiratory ailments, and will test at their discretion. Depending on the available supplies, the provider may use risk factors such as age, travel history, and whether someone works in a sensitive occupation, such as first responders, to guide their decision. Providers will follow all appropriate CDC, state and local guidelines. Patients should follow instructions from providers regardless of whether they get tested, and note that testing does not change their course of treatment or outcome. 

 

I traveled to Oregon or Washington, do I need to get tested or call the health department?

No. At this time, you do not need to contact the health department about your recent travel unless you have been to a place on the CDC's Level-3 travel advisory for sustained and widespread illness including most of Europe, China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Iran. You do not need to get tested for the virus based on travel alone.

 

Do travelers coming into Montana need to self-quarantine? 

Yes. On March 30, Governor Bullock issued a directive that states: "Any person coming to Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. If a person will be present in Montana for fewer than 14 days, that person must self-quarantine for the duration of the visit."

Any person who has already arrived in Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose before the date of this Directive must immediately self-quarantine for the remainder of a 14-day period beginning on the date of their arrival in Montana, or until their departure from Montana—whichever is sooner.

The directive applies to both Montana residents and non-residents.

These quarantine restrictions do not apply in the following circumstances:
1. to persons traveling through Montana en route to another destination; or
2. to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers

Read the full directive here: Quarantine for Travelers (pdf)

 

My boss wants me to get tested due to recent travel in the US, is this recommended by the health department?

No. The test is not designed to screen exposure but to diagnose illness. 

 

What does social distancing mean?

Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings (or busy public spaces), avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.  Here is a handy one-pager to explain social distancing, quarantine and isolation (pdf).

 

What does physical distancing mean?

Physical distancing is the same as social distancing - it means remaining out of congregate settings (or busy public spaces), avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible. The World Health Organization recently recommended the use of the term "physical distancing" to help people understand that just because you need to keep space between yourself and others, that doesn't mean you need to cut off connections. 

What does the governor's directive say about social distancing?

In his March 26, 2020 Stay At Home directive, Governor Bullock required additional social distancing statewide. Specifically:

With exceptions for Essential Activities and Essential Businesses,"all individuals currently living within the State of Montana are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence to the greatest extent possible, except as allowed in this Directive. As used in this Directive, homes or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities.

Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.

All persons may leave their homes or place of residence only for Essential Activities or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.

Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are permitted and urged to leave their home and stay at a safe alternative location.”

In addition, in his March 24, 2020 directive, the governor's stated that parents should avoid, if possible, placing children for childcare with grandparents, family members, friends or providers over the age of 60 or immunocompromised persons.

Should I avoid public spaces?

Per Governor Bullock’s Stay At Home directive, all individuals currently living within the State of Montana are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence to the greatest extent possible, except as allowed in the directive. 

If you are sick, please stay home and avoid public spaces. If you are well, you should assess your own risk and practice proper precautions including social distancing. If you are over 60 years of age or have underlying health conditions, you will be at elevated risk, and are encouraged to limit exposure.

 

Is the health department currently monitoring the health of travelers who have returned from overseas?

The health department is following CDC guidance for people who have traveled to or through countries with travel advisories. People are asked to check-in with the health department upon returning at 406-258-3896 to receive guidance on monitoring for symptoms and whether they need to limit movement in the community.

 

Should I stay home from work, school, or restrict my everyday activities?

Per Governor Bullock’s Stay At Home Directive, which is in effect from 12:01 a.m. March 28 through April 10, all Montanans should stay home as much as possible. 

Specifically:

“With exceptions as outlined below, all individuals currently living within the State of Montana are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence to the greatest extent possible, except as allowed in this Directive. As used in this Directive, homes or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities.

Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.

All persons may leave their homes or place of residence only for Essential Activities or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.

Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are permitted and urged to leave their home and stay at a safe alternative location.”

If you employed by an essential business or have essential activities to conduct, please consider the following:

If you are sick, please stay home.

If you are well, and not at high-risk for COVID-19, please practice social distancing, and other COVID precautions, and consider the risk to your health when making decisions.

 If you are well, and at high-risk for COVID-19, please take additional precautions.

Employment

Work with your employer to see if there are ways to work remotely or if they can provide other accommodation.

School

Governor Bullock issued an order for schools to close.

Essential activities

Use your judgment and assess your risk. Use online platforms and methods when possible to conduct personal business. Practice social distancing and proper hand washing. Stay connected with your friends, family, and neighbors for assistance.

  

When can someone, who tested positive for COVID-19, return to work?

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, a public health nurse will let them know when they can return to work. If someone has symptoms but doesn’t test positive, they can return when symptoms resolve; however, if a medical professional says to stay home for longer, follow their instructions. We encourage people to remember that this is evolving and that guidance may change as more information becomes available. 

 

What businesses and public spaces have been ordered to close?

On March 24, the health officer expanded on Governor Bullock’s statewide March 20 closure directive. Health Officer Leahy’s new order for Missoula County extends the governor’s closures to 11:59 p.m. April 15. The new order also extends to additional businesses, including body art establishments, hair and cosmetic salons and massage services, effective from 11:59 p.m. March 24 to 11:59 p.m. April 15.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, the following places are closed to ingress, egress and occupancy by members of the public until 11:59 p.m. April 15:

  • Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Cigar bars.
  • Health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios, and indoor recreational facilities.
  • Movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls.
  • Casinos.

EFFECTIVE at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, and until 11:59 p.m. April 15, the following establishments and activities shall be closed to the public:

  • All body art establishments
  • All hair and cosmetic salons
  • All massage services except those contained within state-licensed physical therapy or chiropractic practices

Hair and cosmetic salons include barbers (including barbers and barbers-nonchemical), cosmetologists, electrologists, estheticians, manicurists, and tanning salons. 

While the directive prohibits the operation of bars and dine-in food service, the directive does allow for limited operation via drive-thru, take out, and delivery service. It also doesn’t include food services that are a sole source of food for a population such as nursing homes, UM dining, or hospitals. Food services that operate in a limited capacity need to follow the food service regulations and additional guidance from the health department. Walk-up services are required to keep customers at least six feet apart and allow no more than five people inside an establishment for pick-up and each individual or party, such as a family with young children in tow, shall be kept at least six feet apart from each other at all times.

Places that operate in a limited capacity must ensure that people are not congregating, which includes waiting for their order in the seating area. Businesses need to consider how to get customers their takeout orders without them waiting in the building, such as providing curbside service.

The order does not include physical therapists who provide one-on-one appointments.

If you have a restaurant or have questions about how to implement this, please call Environmental Health at 406-258-4755. 

Any future Governor's orders that are stricter that these local orders will be in effect statewide including Missoula County.  However, local orders that are stricter than state-wide Governor's orders, will be remain effective in Missoula City and County.  

IMPORTANT: If you see a facility operating that was closed by this order, DO NOT call 911! If you have a complaint regarding compliance with the closure order, please call 406-258-4755. If someone doesn’t answer your call to take the complaint, leave a message, and someone will respond to the complaint even if you do not get a return call. Please do not call 911 to report non-compliance.

Read the governor’s directive here: https://ewscripps.brightspotcdn.com/59/0f/38fb0192406780efd3dc81ad49ab/directive-on-bars-and-restaurants.pdf

Public lands - While public lands are still open for most day use and hiking, federal and state agencies have set several restrictions to prohibit camping and facility use. See this FAQ answer for more information.

 

Are social, civic, or faith-based gatherings restricted? 

The Governor's March 24, 2020 directive said: "Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence of greater than ten people are prohibited" unless at least six feet between individuals can be maintained. This restriction was further tightened in the Stay At Home Directive that goes into effect March 28, which states: “Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.” As well as: “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit are prohibited, except for the limited purposes permitted by this Directive.”

While we look to the state and Governor's office for additional guidance, his order does appear to limit these types of gatherings.

Why aren't all non-essential businesses closed?

Per the Governor’s Stay At Home Directive, all nonessential businesses and operations in the State are required to cease all activities except Minimum Basic Operations.  Businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home). Governor Bullock’s March 26, 2020 Stay At Home Directive is in place from 12:01 a.m. March 28 through April 10. 

Minimum Basic Operations include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:

 a. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.

b. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

On March 24, the health officer issued an order, effective at 11:59 p.m. March 24, that stores and all retail establishments in Missoula County not otherwise affected by her closure orders or any Governor's Directive shall maintain a separation of at least six feet between customers in line for assistance and check-out inside and outside the facility.

 

Can I still recreate on public lands? What’s currently closed?

While public lands are still open for most day use and hiking, federal and state agencies have set several restrictions to prohibit camping and facility use.  Please be sure to check with the agency overseeing the recreational area you want to visit for specific restrictions.

Lolo National Forest: Effective March 28, all Lolo National Forest campgrounds, rental cabins and lookouts are temporarily closed through April 30, or until the order is rescinded.  All outhouses/toilets on the Forest are also included in the closure and garbage service will not be available at Maclay Flat, Blue Mountain, Pattee Canyon, Rattlesnake Recreation Area, and Ferry Landing.

For more information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/lolo/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD717011

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests: Effective March 28, entering or using developed recreation sites or developed campgrounds is prohibited.  Violations of the prohibition are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations. Developed recreations sites include, but are not limited to, campgrounds and hot springs.  For the complete list of developed recreation sites and campgrounds: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nezperceclearwater/notices/?cid=FSEPRD717021

NOTE: This affects popular destinations, including the Weir Creek Hot Springs and Jerry Johnson Hot Springs!

Montana State parks, fishing access sites and wildfire management areas: The Montana Fish, Wildfire and Parks is prohibiting overnight camping.  Group use sites will be closed, including playgrounds. Visitor center closures will be extended at least through April 10. Bathrooms at many locations will be limited due to public and employee safety concerns, because of the current lack of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. Sites will be regularly patrolled by enforcement staff.  Specific sites may close to address groups gathering, public health and safety, FWP employee safety or resource damage.

For more information: http://fwp.mt.gov/covid19

 

Should I suspend my travel plans?

You should check the CDC’s travel recommendations, keeping in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly changing situation and that advisories may change during your trip to include your destination or layover locations. When making travel decisions, you not only need to think about the risk of getting COVID-19, but also how your return travel and daily activities may be affected once you get home.

If you are in the high-risk group of those over 60 years of age or those with underlying medical conditions, please reconsider all non-essential travel.

 

What can I do to protect my employees in the workplace?

The CDC has a great guide on their website, which we have linked on our main page http://missoula.co/cvirus to help you think about workplace preparedness. We encourage you to do the following:

  • Review your employee illness policy to ensure that employees can stay home when sick to take care of themselves and prevent spreading illness to coworkers, customers, and clients. Ask employees to stay home if they have coughing, fever, or shortness of breath. If your policy requires a note from a medical professional, we encourage you to temporarily suspend the practice.
  • Ensure that employees have a way to wash hands with soap and water at the workplace. Encourage employees to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and commonly touched surfaces, including customer areas. Many standard household disinfectants will work. Check to see if they are effective against human coronavirus, CoV-2 or Sars-like viruses. There is also a list of EPA registered disinfectants that will work on this page.
  • Think about essential staffing needed to continue operations in case you do have employees who call in sick.
  • Think about how you can continue to serve customers and clients using online methods.
  • Reconsider all non-essential travel. 
  • Provide employees, especially those who are high-risk, ways to telecommute or provide other reasonable accommodation.

 

What goes into a decision to close a school? / Why aren't schools closed?

Governor Bullock closed schools on March 15.

When will schools reopen?

On March 15, Governor Bullock's directed schools to close through March 27.  However, he may choose to extend school closures. On March 19, the governor released additional guidance for schools, stating that districts are expected to use this two-week period (March 15-27) to plan and implement ways to provide students with (1) quality public education through remote learning, (2) school meals, (3) services to students with disabilities, (4) other services customarily provided to students in school, in the event there are school closures beyond March 27.

On March 24, Governor  Bullock extended school closures through April 10.

 

What are the risks of food from takeout or drive-thru?

There is no current indication that takeout or drive-thru meals will increase illness

This option is a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups because it helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points.

 

What are the risks of food delivered to home?

Similar to takeout, food delivery helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points between preparation and serving of food.

Many delivery programs have also instituted no touch/no interaction options, which further reduces risk.

 

Can I get COVID-19 from touching food or packaging exposed to coronavirus?

The risk of transfer of viruses is very low, based on current research. CDC, FDA and USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Current evidence shows the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic.  Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.

To further minimize risk, handling food packaging should be followed by handwashing and/or using hand sanitizer.

 

What happens in your body if you do ingest coronavirus through food?

If you consumed food that is contaminated with coronavirus, your stomach acid should inactivate the virus since it is very acidic (pH 2.0). Even if your stomach acid did not inactivate the virus, there is no evidence the virus causing COVID-19 can start infecting through the gastrointestinal tract.

The only possible way to get sick is if, during eating, the virus comes in contact with a specific type of respiratory cells. This scenario is highly unlikely and not concerning given what is known about modes of transmission currently discussed regarding COVID-19

 Do Missoula hospitals want homemade (home sewn) masks?

At this time healthcare organizations are not using homemade masks in the medical setting. Homemade masks have not gone through the same safety tests as masks worn by first responders and medical providers. The fabric available in the community has not undergone testing, so there is no way to know which fabrics, if any, will provide actual protection.  

The primary medical role of masks is to reduce the chance that people who are ill can spread a virus by breathing or coughing on others. People should not expect homemade masks to serve as adequate protection against getting a virus. Handwashing and social distancing is still the best way to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus.   

 

I made home sewn masks. Where can I take them?

United Way of Missoula County will collect mask donations and distribute masks upon request. A collection bin is on their front porch at 412 West Alder in downtown Missoula. All masks must be washable. United Way is not able to accept donations of other goods. For information on how to make face masks, national retailer JOANN Fabrics and Craft Stores has released a video tutorial

 

Where can I acquire home sewn masks?

If you are in need of homemade masks, email volunteermissoula@gmail.com. Please do not call, as their staffing is limited at this time. 

  

Where can I read the full Stay At Home Directive?

Read the governor's Stay At Home Directive (pdf)

 

What are the social distancing requirements in the Stay At Home Directive?

With exceptions for essential activities, essential businesses and operations and essential travel, all individuals currently living within the State of Montana are directed to stay at home or at their place of residence to the greatest extent possible, except as allowed in the Directive. As used in the Directive, homes or residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units, shelters, and similar facilities.

Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained.

Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are permitted and urged to leave their home and stay at a safe alternative location.

 

Can I leave if I’m in a dangerous home situation?

Yes. Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are permitted and urged to leave their home and stay at a safe alternative location.

 

What is an essential business or operation?

On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, issued a Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response. The definition of Essential Businesses and Operations in the governor's directive is
meant to encompass the workers identified in that Memorandum.

Essential operations include health care and public health, human services, infrastructure and government functions. Please read the directive for the full description of these operations.

Essential businesses include stores that sell groceries and medicine; food and beverage production and agriculture (including animal care); organizations that provide charitable and social services; media; gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; financial and real estate services and institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades; mail, post shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; educational institutions; laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; supplies to work from home; supplies for essential businesses and operations; transportation; home-based care and services; residential facilities and shelters; manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; critical labor union functions; hotels and motels; and funeral services. Please read the directive for the full description of essential businesses.

Montana Stay At Home Directive

CISA Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce

If you have questions about whether or not you are an essential business or operation, please call MCCHD's Environmental Health Division:

406-258-4755

 

What are essential activities?

For purposes of the Stay At Home Directive, individuals may leave their home or residence only to perform any of the following Essential Activities and must ensure a distance of six feet from others not in their household:

For health and safety. To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as, by way of example only and without limitation, seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional.

For necessary supplies and services. To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as, by way of example only and without limitation, groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies they need to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.

For outdoor activity. To engage in outdoor activity, provided that individuals comply with social distancing, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or in closed terrain).

For certain types of work. To perform work providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses or Operations or to otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted in this Directive, including Minimum Basic Operations. To take care of others. To care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Directive.

What is essential travel?

For the purposes of the Stay At Home Directive, Essential Travel includes travel for any of the following purposes:

 a. Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Businesses and Operations, or Minimum Basic Operations.

b. Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.

c. Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.

d. Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.

e. Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.

f. Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the State. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the State remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.

All travel should be limited to Essential Travel and travel for Essential Activities. People riding on public transit must comply with social distancing to the greatest extent feasible. When individuals need to leave their homes or residences, they should at all times maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any person who is not a member of their immediate household, to the greatest extent possible. 

What are minimum basic operations?

The Stay At Home Directive states that all businesses and operations in the State, except Essential Businesses and Operations, are required to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined below. Businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).

For the purposes of this Directive, Minimum Basic Operations include the following, provided that employees comply with Social Distancing Requirements, to the extent possible, while carrying out such operations:

a. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.

 b. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

 

What social distancing measures are required by essential businesses and nonessential businesses engaged in minimum basic operations?

Essential Businesses and Operations and businesses engaged in Minimum Basic Operations must take proactive measures to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements, including where possible:

a. Designate six-foot distances. Designating with signage, tape, or by other means sixfoot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance;

b. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products. Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers;

c. Separate operating hours for vulnerable populations. Implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers; and

d. Online and remote access. Posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.

 

Can I go outside?

Yes.  The Governor's Stay At Home Directive specifically describes outdoor activities as essential.  Be sure to keep six feet between yourself and other people and stay home if you're sick.  Here's what the directive says about outdoor activities:

Individuals may leave their home or residence to engage in outdoor activity, provided that individuals comply with social distancing and ensure a distance of six feet from others not in their household, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Montanans are discouraged from outdoor recreation activities that pose enhanced risks of injury or could otherwise stress the ability of local first responders to address the COVID-19 emergency (e.g., backcountry skiing in a manner inconsistent with avalanche recommendations or in closed terrain).