Show/Hide

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 flexible, vigilant and informed.

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

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Last update: May 29, 2020 - 4:00 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?

Are young people affected by COVID-19?

What is the COVID-19 situation in Missoula County?

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 And Others

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 hydroxychloroquine?

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

Cloth Face Coverings

Where and why does CDC recommend everyone, including healthy people, wear cloth face coverings?

Why are cloth face coverings required for employees in touch-based industries (salons/body art/massage/etc.) but not in other businesses such as retail, pharmacy, etc?

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly?

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

How should I wear a cloth face covering?

How do I make a face cloth covering without sewing?

Where can I order a cloth face covering?

 

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?

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who has developed symptoms within 14 days?

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who is awaiting test results?

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who tested positive?

What is a close contact?

Missoula Testing Station

How can I access the Missoula Testing Station?

Can I just show up at the testing center?

Who is being tested/who qualifies?

My county doesn't have many testing sites. Can I come to this one?

Antibody tests

What is an antibody test?

When will it become available?

What can antibody tests tell us?

If someone has antibodies, does that mean they're immune to the virus?

Can't I just order a test I found off the internet?

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 and health officer's order 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 are open?

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 to another state, do I need to get tested or call the health department?

Do travelers coming into Montana need to self-quarantine?

Do people staying at a vacation rental need to self-quarantine?

What does self-quarantine mean for travelers?

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 do I still need to do, now that the Governor lifted the Stay at Home Directive?

What are the risks of COVID-19 now that the Stay at Home directive has been lifted?

 Phase 2 Guidance Tab - Below this tab is listed the guidance regarding Phase 2 Reopening

What are the key dates in the phased reopening of Missoula County?

When does Phase Two start?

Does this mean it’s back to business as usual for facilities allowed to open?

How are vulnerable individuals protected with the Stay at Home Directive lifted?

What are the requirements and recommendations for businesses under Phase Two?

Business requirements and guidance from the governor and local health:

Governor Bullock’s requirements for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos: 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for gyms: 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for pools at gyms: 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for places of assembly, i.e. indoor and outdoor concert venues, bowling alleys, theaters, museums, etc. 

State and local requirements for personal care services: 

What is still closed?

How is outdoor recreation affected in Phase Two?

Are nursing homes, senior living or assisted living facilities open to visitors under Phase Two?

Will schools reopen?

Can youth activities resume?

How are places of worship affected? Can they hold services?

Can I spend time with groups of people?

What social distancing measures are required by retail businesses and food and drink establishments in Missoula County?

Will there be graduation ceremonies in Missoula County?

Can my yoga/oula/Zumba/etc. classes resume?

Can I go to a movie theater?

Can I go to a museum?

Can live performance theaters open?

Where can I find information/guidance about the measures that businesses need to take under the current phase?

How can customers support businesses while protecting themselves and others?

What is still closed?

What if I have concerns about how a business is operating?

What about yard sales and garage sales?

Phase 1 Guidance Tab - Below this tab is listed the guidance regarding Phase 1 Reopening

Per the Governor of Montana’s press briefing on May 19th, Phase 1 is still in effect until June 1, 2020.  On a local level, what changes are being made with regards to moving to Phase 2 on June 1, 2020?

What are the key dates in the phased reopening of Missoula County?

When does Phase II start?

Does this mean it’s back to business as usual for facilities allowed to open?

How are vulnerable individuals protected with the Stay at Home Directive lifted?

What are the requirements and recommendations for businesses and farmer's markets under Phase 1?

What social distancing measures are required by businesses in Missoula County?

What is still closed?

How is outdoor recreation affected in Phase I?

Are nursing homes, senior living or assisted living facilities open to visitors under Phase I?

Will schools reopen?

Can youth activities resume?

How are places of worship affected? Can they hold services?

Can I spend time with groups of people?

What is the COVID-19 situation in Missoula County?

Can I go outside?

Why are touch-based services (salons, barbershops, tattoo artists, etc) closed, but people can still shop in crowded stores?

Will there be graduation ceremonies in Missoula County?

Why are bingo halls, live performance theaters, music halls, and other places of assembly still closed?

Can my yoga/oula/Zumba/etc. classes resume?

Can I go to a movie theater?

Can I go to a museum?

Can live performance theaters open?

Where can I find information/guidance about the measures that businesses need to take under the current phase?

How can customers support businesses while protecting themselves and others?

What is still closed?

What if I have concerns about how a business is operating?

What about yard sales and garage sales?

Summer Camp in Phase One 

Can summer camps operate during Phase One?

What are the group size and physical distancing requirements for summer camps during Phase One?

What are physical distancing recommendations for summer camps during Phase One?

Are daily health checks required for summer camps?

How does quarantine or isolation affect camp attendance?

Do campers need to wear cloth face coverings?

Where can I read the requirements and recommendations for summer camps in Phase One?

Summer Camp in Phase II 

Coming Soon

 


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.

 Return to top

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.

 Return to top

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.

 

Return to top 

Are young people affected by COVID-19?

Yes! In Montana, almost 40% of identified COVID-19 cases have been in people younger than 40, and the age group with the highest number of cases is people 20-29. While older people are more likely to have complications, it can happen in younger people as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people between 20 to 44 years of age with coronavirus in the U.S. had a 14% to 20% hospitalization rate between February 12 and March 16.

Although that's a lower percent range than those above age 65, which ranges from 28.6% to 70.3%, it's still concerning. Further, two percent to four percent of those in the 20- to 44-year-old age category required admission to an intensive care unit. These findings show how anyone, regardless of age, can be a transmitter of COVID-19, as well as potentially develop serious symptoms.

Return to top 

What is the COVID-19 situation in Missoula County?

We are continuing to see new cases of COVID-19 in Missoula County.  About a third of those cases are attributed to community spread, meaning we can’t identify any specific travel or contact with a known COVID case to explain infection.  We also believe the true case count is higher than what is currently being reported.  Several of our most recent COVID-19 diagnoses have been in patients who could not be tested prior to April 13, when the Missoula County Testing Center had enough supplies to open testing parameters to include everyone with symptoms. There are likely more people in our community with COVID-19 who have not been tested.

For epidemiology data, please visit our Missoula County Epidemiology page.

Return to top

How does it spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. CDC recommends people practice frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand rub. CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

Return to top 

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, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, chills or repeated shaking with chills, unexplained muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell.

Return to top 

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.
  • In certain situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain (such as a grocery store or pharmacy), the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask to lower the risk of your unknowingly spreading the virus. Recent data suggests  presymptomatic people (people who are infected but are not showing symptoms) can spread COVID-19. Because you cannot tell if you are presymptomatic, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in some situations.  A cloth face mask WILL NOT protect you from contracting the virus.  However, it may help prevent you from unknowingly exposing others to the virus.

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.

Return to top 

Can wearing a mask protect me from getting it?

A cloth mask will not protect you from the virus. 

It is not recommended that you wear a respirator/N95 mask for protection from COVID-19 unless directed to do so by a medical professional.  Misuse of medical masks and N95s diverts them from those who need them most, such as healthcare workers and medical professionals.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to follow proper social distancing practices, avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth, frequently wash your hands, and sterilize frequently touched surfaces.

Return to top 

Where and why does CDC recommend everyone, including healthy people, wear cloth face coverings?

There is new data suggesting presymptomatic people (people who are infected but are not showing symptoms) can spread COVID-19. Because you cannot tell if you are presymptomatic, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in some situations to protect people around you in case you are infected but have not shown symptoms. 

Remember: The best way to reduce COVID-19 transmission in our community is social distancing -  keep at least six feet between yourself and other people and stay home as much as possible.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Cloth face coverings are an additional, voluntary protective measure.  They do not replace social distancing.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

A cloth face mask WILL NOT protect you from contracting the virus.  However, it may help prevent you from unknowingly exposing others to the virus.

When wearing a cloth face covering, be cautious of touching your face while adjusting it. You don’t want to risk exposing yourself by touching your face with contaminated hands.

 Return to top 

 

Why are cloth face coverings required for employees in touch-based industries (salons/body art/massage/etc.) but not in other businesses such as retail, pharmacy, etc?

Cloth face coverings are required for touch-based industry professionals because the professionals need to be within six feet of the customer to provide the service. It is impossible to social distance and provide a touch-based service.  In addition, individuals providing a touch-based service are close contacts of their clients and will need to be included in any contact tracing should a client or professional contract the virus. (A close contact is defined as a person you are within six feet of for at least 10 minutes.) Wearing a cloth face covering will reduce the chances an asymptomatic or presymptomatic service professional inadvertently passes the virus to a client. Unlike in touch-based services, protective measures such as maintaining six-foot distance or using a plexiglass barrier are possible in a retail setting. While cloth face coverings are not required in settings outside the touch-based industries, they are still recommended.

 Return to top

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly?

Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

Return to top 

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering..

Return to top 

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

Return to top

 

 

How should I wear a cloth face covering?

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Return to top 

How do I make a cloth face covering without sewing? 

The CDC’s cloth face covering guidance does not mean you need to sew a cloth face mask. If the cloth covers your nose and mouth, you can use a scarf, buff, bandana, etc.  The CDC has tips for making a cloth face covering with a T-shirt or bandana, here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

In this video, the surgeon general demonstrates how you can make your face covering with items you can find around your home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPx1yqvJgf4

Return to top  

Where can I order a cloth face covering?

  1. Last Best Supply Company
  2. Recreate Designs
  3. 406 Creative Vibe 
  4. Some people have had recent success ordering from Amazon

 

Return to top

How can I access the Missoula Testing Station?

Call 258-INFO and select option 2 to be screened.

Return to top 

Can I just show up at the Missoula Testing center?

No, the testing center is by appointment only. Call 258-INFO and select option 2 to speak to a nurse for screening. If you are eligible, you will be transferred for appointment scheduling.

Return to top 

Who is being tested/who qualifies?

Missoula County residents and Missoula healthcare workers with COVID-19 symptoms may get scheduled for testing.

Starting April 28, the Missoula County COVID-19 Testing Site expanded testing criteria to include any of the symptoms listed on the CDC website, which include the following: fever over 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. 

Tests are free and by appointment only.  If you have symptoms and would like to schedule a test, call 258-INFO and select Option 2 to speak to a nurse.

Return to top 

What is an antibody test?

Antibodies are proteins the immune system produces to fight a specific infectious agent. These antibodies are present in your blood, which is why the antibody tests require a blood sample. The tests are frequently called “serology” tests because they are examining the blood serum. A positive antibody test result for COVID-19 indicates previous infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Return to top

When will it become available?

It is unknown when a fully FDA approved antibody test will be available. 

The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for a limited number of antibody tests. No antibody test as been approved by the FDA. More tests are undergoing validation, so there may be more availability of FDA-approved antibody tests in the future. 

The CDC and National Institute of Health (NIH) are currently using antibody tests in targeted studies to understand how COVID-19 spread throughout the county. The first study looks at blood samples from people living in COVID-19 hotspots who were never diagnosed with the virus. A study slated for this summer will be nationwide in scope – taking samples from different parts of the country.  The third study will look at specific populations (such as healthcare workers) to see how widely the virus has spread within them.

Return to top  

What can antibody tests tell us?

An antibody test can tell us who has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 for long enough that they developed antibodies.  Because it takes time for your body to develop antibodies, the test cannot diagnose an infection in its early stages. 

Currently, federal agencies are deploying antibody tests to better understand the extent to which the novel coronavirus has spread undetected in the United States and provide insights into which communities and populations are most affected. 

It is unclear though if proof of previous infection means that someone is immune. The potency of this information and how it can be interpreted is still under investigation.

Return to top  

If someone has antibodies, does that mean they’re immune to the virus?

Researchers have not yet confirmed whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a person’s blood means they are fully protected from COVID-19. Based on what is known about similar viruses, this protection is likely; however, more research is needed. The NIH’s nationwide antibody test study may help answer this question.

All people in the United States should adhere to public health guidelines as outlined by the CDC and local authorities. At this time, a person’s behavior should not change based on antibody test results.

Return to top 

Can’t I just order a test I found off the internet?

While there are antibody tests on the market, you should use caution before trusting them. These tests have not be vetted for accuracy by the FDA. Be aware that some firms are falsely claiming that their serological tests are FDA approved or authorized, or falsely claiming that they can diagnose COVID-19. 

Return to top 

My county doesn't have many testing sites. Can I come to this one?

No, the Missoula Testing Site is only for Missoula County residents.

Return to top 

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
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

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, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday  
If the patient is experiencing symptoms, please call in advance: 406-728-5841

Robert B. Curry Health Center
*For University of Montana Students* 

634 Eddy Ave
Hours 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday 
Please call in advance: 406-243-2122

 

Missoula Testing Center
Missoula County Fairgrounds
 1101 South Ave. W.
*Free and by appointment only.* Call 406-258-INFO and select option 2 to speak to a nurse.

Community Medical Center: Call the complimentary 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. 

Frenchtown Family Medical and Wellness, PC 
16862 Beckwith St. Ste 6, Frenchtown, MT
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday (closed 12-1), 9 a.m. to noon Friday
Call 406-541-4700 to make an appointment.

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

Return to top

 

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.

Return to top 

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.  

Return to top 

 

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.

Return to top

 

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.

Return to top 

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.

Return to top 

When should someone get tested for COVID-19?

The health department does not test for COVID-19 at the Missoula City-County Health Department offices. However, the Missoula County Testing Site at the fairgrounds and the mobile Missoula County Testing Site offer free tests to Missoula County residents and healthcare workers by appointment only.  If you have symptoms associated with COVID-19 and are a Missoula County resident or healthcare worker, you can call 258-INFO to speak with a nurse about setting up an appointment.

If you are concerned that you have COVID-19 and are not a Missoula County resident or do not wish to set an appointment with the Missoula County Testing Site, 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.

 

Return to top 

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.

Return to top 

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
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness, particularly if the underlying medical conditions are not well controlled. This includes people with:
    • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • Heart disease with complications
    • Conditions that can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
    • Severe obesity (body mass index [(BM]I)≥40)
    • Diabetes
    • Chronic kidney disease and who are undergoing dialysis
    • Liver disease
  • 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

Return to top 

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:.

Return to top 

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.

Return to top

 

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.

Return to top

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.

Return to top 

Are people being tested for the disease?

Yes. As of April 6, more than 900 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. 

Return to top  

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who has developed symptoms within 14 days?

The person who has developed symptoms should seek a COVID-19 test. If the individual tests positive, the health department will reach out to the patient’s close contacts.

The Health Department investigates the travel history and exposure risk of all known COVID-19 cases to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been a close contact with the patient.  A close contact is someone who was within six feet of the patient for a prolonged period (at least 10 minutes) or was directly exposed to the patient’s infectious secretions (such as respiratory droplets).  People who are concerned that they may have been exposed to a positive case but have not been contacted by the health department or developed symptoms do not need to be tested. If you are identified as a close contact and the health department contacts you, you will be given instructions to follow based upon your level of exposure.

Return to top  

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who is awaiting test results?

Individuals awaiting test results should be in isolation.

If an individual’s COVID-19 test result comes back positive, the health department will reach out to the patient’s close contacts.

The Health Department investigates the travel history and exposure risk of all known COVID-19 cases to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been a close contact with the patient.  A close contact is someone who was within six feet of the patient for a prolonged period (at least 10 minutes) or was directly exposed to the patient’s infectious secretions (such as respiratory droplets).  People who are concerned that they may have been exposed to a positive case but have not been contacted by the health department or developed symptoms do not need to be tested. If you are identified as a close contact and the health department contacts you, you will be given instructions to follow based upon your level of exposure.

Return to top  

What should I do if I was exposed to someone who tested positive?

The Health Department investigates the travel history and exposure risk of all known COVID-19 cases to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been a close contact with the patient.  A close contact is someone who was within six feet of the patient for a prolonged period (at least 10 minutes) or was directly exposed to the patient’s infectious secretions (such as respiratory droplets).  People who are concerned that they may have been exposed to a positive case but have not been contacted by the health department or developed symptoms do not need to be tested. If you are identified as a close contact and the health department contacts you, you will be given instructions to follow based upon your level of exposure.

Return to top  

What is a close contact?

Per the CDC, a close contact is someone who was within six feet of the patient for a prolonged period (at least 10 minutes) or was directly exposed to the patient’s infectious secretions (such as respiratory droplets).  People who are concerned that they may have been exposed to a positive case but have not been contacted by the health department or developed symptoms do not need to be tested. If you are identified as a close contact and the health department contacts you, you will be given instructions to follow based upon your level of exposure.

Return to top 

I traveled to another state, do I need to get tested or call the health department?

No. Travelers coming into Montana and people who have traveled outside of Montana the in last 14 days must self-quarantine per the Governor’s directive (issued March 30, 2020). 

On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1..

Travelers arriving in Missoula County may contact the Missoula City-County Health Department at 258-INFO with questions. Travelers who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should contact a health care provider.

You do not need to get tested for the virus based on travel alone.

Return to top 

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

Note: On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.

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

Return to top 

Do people staying at a vacation rental need to self-quarantine?

Yes, any visitor from another state or country traveling to Montana for non-work-related purposes, must self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their stay.

On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.

 

Return to top   

What does self-quarantine mean for travelers?

If you are self-quarantining, you cannot leave for groceries, public outdoor recreation, to go to work or any other activity. You must remain at your place of quarantine for the duration of the quarantine period. Exceptions will only be made in the event of a medical emergency, fire, natural disaster or other act of God preventing the ongoing healthful habitation of a residence.

On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.

Return to top 

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. 

Return to top 

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).

Return to top  

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. 

Return to top 

What does the governor's directive and health officer's order say about social distancing?

Under Phase One, if you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 10 people. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size. Also per the Health Officer’s order events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events and races shall be limited to 50 people during Phase One and six-foot physical distance between participants shall be maintained.

Under Phase Two, effective June 1, 2020, if you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 50 people. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size. If you are planning an event with more than 50 people, you must adhere to requirements of the Health Officer’s May 28 Order and Appendix A regarding event planning.

Return to top 

Should I avoid public spaces?

Governor Bullock’s Stay At Home directive that directed 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 expired for individuals on April 26.

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.

On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.

Return to top 

 

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

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

Public schools in Missoula County are closed.

Everyday activities and events

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

Note that per Health Officer Ellen Leahy’s May 8 order, Events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events, and races shall be limited to 50 people during Phase One and six-foot physical distance between participants shall be maintained.

When Phase Two starts on June 1, if more than 50 people will be present in a group, activities must follow the requirements of Appendix A of the Health Officer’s May 28 order regarding COVID-19 Event Plans.

Return to top 

What if people aren't following the directive or Health Officer Ellen Leahy's order?

If you have a complaint regarding compliance with the the governor's directive or health officer's order, please email envhealth@missoulacounty.us or call 406-258-4755. Please do not call 9-1-1 to report non-compliance.

Return to top

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. 

Return to top 

What businesses and public spaces are open?

During Phase One, general retail businesses, restaurants and bars, breweries, casinos, grocery stores and other essential businesses, businesses and individuals offering personal care and touch services such as grooming, beauty, body art, piercing, massage, most pools, gyms, fitness studios, movie theaters and non-tactile museums may open.

Public lands - While public lands are still open for most day use and hiking, federal and state agencies may have 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.

When Phase Two starts on June 1, all businesses and places of assembly may open.

Return to top 

What if businesses aren't following the orders?

If you have a complaint regarding compliance with the governor's directive or health officer's order, please email envhealth@missoulacounty.us or 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 9-1-1 to report non-compliance.

 

Return to top 

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

In Phase One, places of worship can become operational on or after April 26, 2020 with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.

For organizations not specifically described in Governor Bullock's April 22 Directive , if you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 10 people under Phase One. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size.

Per the Health Officer’s May 8 order, events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events, and races shall be limited to 50 people with six-foot physical distance between participants. The 50-person limit does not apply to worship services, but it does apply to faith-based events and gatherings (such as community dinners).

In Phase Two (starting June 1) all social, civic and faith-based gatherings may become operational. If you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 50 people under Phase Two. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size.

Per the Health Officer’s May 28 order, if more than 50 people will be present at events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events, and races, organizers must follow the requirements of Appendix A of the Health Officer’s May 28 order regarding COVID-19 Event Plans. This does not apply to worship services, but it does apply to faith-based, social and civic events and gatherings (such as community dinners).

 

Return to top  

Why aren't all non-essential businesses closed? 

Our department is looking at what additional measures need to be taken, including closures. All open businesses are required by Health Officer Ellen Leahy and Governor Bullock to change the way that they do business to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community.

There are many things that we need to consider when issuing orders, including downstream effects, and when we can safely rescind an order. Closures can disrupt essential services by pulling people out of the workforce, stalling transportation, creating issues with childcare, among others. These orders are issued after a great deal of thought and consideration about the right balance of disruption to possible benefit.

That said, employees and community members can take measures to protect themselves without the health department ordering places to close. People can practice social distancing and keep 6 feet between themselves and coworkers or customers. People can push online services as much as possible, use drive-through services, conference calls, and other tools to decrease interactions. People can increase the disinfection of surfaces and implement strong sick policies to keep ill employees home. 

Return to top  

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 may have 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.

 

Return to top 

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.

Return to top 

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.

Return to top 

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

Governor Bullock closed schools on March 15 and turned the decision over to local school board on April 22. In the weeks following April 22, every public school board in Missoula County made the decision to keep schools closed and continue distance learning through the end of the school year.

Return to top 

When will schools reopen?

As of May 7, every public school board in Missoula County has made the decision to continue distance learning through the end of the school year.

Return to top 

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.

 

Return to top 

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.

 

Return to top 

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.

 

Return to top 

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

Return to top 

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.   

Return to top 

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

Return to top 

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. 

  

Return to top 

Where can I read the full Stay At Home Directive?

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

Note that on April 7, the governor extended the Stay at Home directive until April 24, 2020. On April 22, the governor extended the directive through April 25 for individuals, through April 26 for retail and main street businesses and through May 4 for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos.

  

Return to top 

What do I still need to do, now that the Governor lifted the Stay at Home Directive?

Stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing when you leave home. The virus is still in our community, and we continue to see cases caused by community spread.  Lifting the directive is an economic decision, not a public health decision. Without a government mandate, it is now up to personal decision-making and behavior changes to control the spread of the virus.

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.

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

Maintain at least six feet between yourself and other people when outside your home.

Wear a cloth face covering when out in public to limit the risk of presymptomatic spread.

Return to top 

Can I go outside?

Yes. Engaging in outdoor activity is good for your physical and mental health.  Make sure you’re complying 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. You may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, including public lands in Montana provided they remain open to recreation. Follow instructions on signage at public use areas. You 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).

Return to top

Per the Governor of Montana’s press briefing on May 19th, Phase 1 is still in effect until June 1, 2020.  On a local level, what changes are being made with regards to moving to Phase 2 on June 1, 2020?

As stated, Phase One restrictions are still in place until June 1, 2020. As the county moves toward Phase Two, Missoula’s response team will not only monitor for cases ad spread but also assess potential impacts on health care resources and assess testing and contact tracing capacity. The Health Officer and Missoula City-County Health Department will provide an update by May 28. 

Return to top

What are the key dates in the phased reopening of Missoula County?

April 26 -the Stay at Home Directive expires for individuals and places of worship

April 27 – Non-essential retail businesses may reopen to curbside pickup or delivery only

May 1 – Retail businesses, except those with later opening dates, may provide in-store business.  These businesses must meet Missoula County requirements. Each business must create a plan for limiting the number of customers to 50%, providing social distancing measures, employee health screening, and excluding ill employees. Plan must include staff training.

May 4 –Restaurants, bars, distilleries, breweries and casinos can provide service in the dining areas providing they abide by the Governor’s Directive.

May 7 – Local school boards can decide to reopen. *Note – school boards in Missoula County chose to remain closed through the end of the school year.

May 11 - Business and individuals providing grooming, beauty, body art, piercing, massage, spa and similar services, including but not limited to barbers (including barbers and barbers - nonchemical), cosmetologists, electrologists, estheticians may reopen providing they meet the minimum requirements in the Health Officer’s May 8 order.

May 15 – Gyms, pools in gyms, movie theaters and non-interactive museums may reopen providing they follow the governor’s requirements.

May 23 – Farmers markets may reopen providing they meet the minimum requirements in the Health Officers May 8 order.

Note: Live performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, interactive museums and music halls remain closed per Governor Bullock.

Return to top  

When does Phase II start?

On May 19, Governor Bullock announced Montana will enter Phase Two on June 1, 2020. 

Return to top 

Does this mean it’s back to business as usual for facilities allowed to open?

No. The governor’s directive and supplemental guidelines, and Health Officer Ellen Leahy’s order call for reduced occupancy, increased sanitation and disinfection and the implementation of social distancing policies. You can find the latest directives and orders here: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus/general-closure-information

Return to top  

How are vulnerable individuals protected with the Stay at Home Directive lifted?

All vulnerable individuals should continue to follow the stay at home guidance. In addition, members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

Return to top 

What are the requirements and recommendations for businesses and farmer's markets under Phase One?

Effective Monday, April 27, employers should: 

  • Continue to encourage telework whenever possible and feasible with business operations. 
    • When telework is not feasible, employers are encouraged to accommodate alternative work schedules such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 
  • Close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • Minimize non-essential business travel.
  • Make special accommodations for members of a vulnerable population or those with vulnerable household members. 

Business requirements and guidance from the governor and local health:

  • Health assessments must be conducted for all employees at the beginning of each shift, AND
  • In establishments where customers wait in a line, non-household customers should remain physically distanced, AND
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between non-congregate customers, AND
  • Waiting areas where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained must be closed, AND
  • At any given time, maximum number of customers shall be 50% of usual business capacity, AND
  • Measures are in place to protect customers and staff waiting in line at checkout counters, such as visible markers or signs denoting six-foot separation or temporary barriers, AND
  • Staff have received training on practicing good hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19, and not reporting to work if experiencing symptoms; AND
  • The business has developed and implemented an individualized plan addressing the requirements in the Governor’s re-opening directive and the Health Officer’s Order. The completed plan must be maintained on site and be made available to the Health Department upon request, AND
  • Customers should be encouraged to call for a reservation or an appointment, or establishments should use an online wait listing application. 

Governor Bullock’s requirements for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos: 

Dining areas in food and drink establishments such as restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos shall remain closed if the requirements and guidelines in the Governor’s directive cannot be met:

  • All seated groups of customers in food and drink establishments must be at least 6 feet from other customers, including those sitting in booths. AND
  • A specific cleaning plan must be implemented, and employees must be trained in proper sanitation practices. Materials will be available on the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) food and consumer services website. AND
  • All surfaces occupied must be cleaned between customers, including tables, chairs, booths, and highchairs. AND
  • Table items including, condiments, menus, napkins, and décor, should be removed from the table unless they can be adequately cleaned between customers. AND
  • Menus must be cleaned between customers. AND
  • Growlers and refillable or reusable containers must be cleaned prior to being refilled. AND
  • Gaming machines must be adequately cleaned between customers. AND
  • All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants and casinos by 11:30 p.m. (Breweries and distilleries shall follow existing laws on closing time.).

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for gyms: 

  • Only registered members can use the facility, no day passes or walk-in. 
  • Facility must have a dedicated staff available during operating hours to wipe down frequently touched areas on a regular basis and monitor gyms zones to ensure that users are wiping down equipment properly. 
  • Train workers on symptom awareness and proper handwashing technique. 
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording:
    • “Patrons with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using the gym”
    • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by gym guests, such as at the front desk and in locker rooms.
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available at front desk and at stations throughout the workout area.  
  • Approved sanitizer for cleaning equipment after use must be provided at stations throughout the workout areas along with disposable towels. Reusable towels shall not be used to clean equipment. 
  • Post signs throughout workout area reminding patrons to wipe equipment after each use. 
  • Six-foot distance should be maintained between equipment. Cardio studios should limit guests to every other piece of equipment to achieve this. 
  • Guest using free weights shall maintain six feet of separation except when a spotter is necessary. In this instance, workout groups shall be limited to two people. 
  • Sitting areas must be closed for use. 
  • Food vendors must follow applicable COVID-19 procedures for restaurants and retail food service. Vendors should be encouraged to use single-service items whenever possible, especially for condiments and similar foods.    
  • Social distancing must be maintained in dressing rooms and other common areas. No congregating in these areas may be allowed. 
  • After closing, establishments must clean using an EPA approved disinfectant. Twenty-four-hour establishments must close from 11:30 pm to 12am so that proper disinfection can happen.
    • Facility must develop a checklist to ensure that no equipment is being missed during disinfection. Checklist should include large items, such as treadmills and smaller items, such as weights and bands. 
  • Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day and disinfected each night after closing. 
  • Personal training sessions may be offered with strict adherence to social distancing guidelines and masks are encouraged to be used by the trainer and trainee. 
  • Indoor group classes may not be offered. 
  • Alternatively, group classes may be offered outdoors with strict adherence to social distancing guidelines and should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. 
  • Additional time between group classes outdoors must be provided so that a designated gym employee can disinfect any equipment and other cleanable surfaces before the next class begins. 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for pools at gyms: 

  • Only registered members can use the facility, no day passes or walk-ins
  • Train workers on symptom awareness and proper handwashing procedures
  • Pool classes may continue; if:
    • All social distancing requirements must be observed during class; and
    • Any equipment used can be easily cleaned and disinfected between users.
  • Youth swim lessons may be offered in-line with previous guidance for Phase 1, which includes youth activities should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Front desk/gate attendant tracks occupancy, incoming and outgoing to ensure maximum occupancy does not exceed 50% capacity of normal bather load;
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording.
  • “Members with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility.”
  • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by members, such as on the entry way door
  •  No congregating in waiting areas, patrons should wait in an appropriately spaced line or way that observes social distancing
  • Signage must be posted on the locker room door with the following or substantially similar wording, “Observe social distancing while using this facility. No loitering in common areas.”
  • Social distancing should be applied in all common areas
  • 6-foot spacing between unassociated members (i.e. not family members) in the pool.
  • 6-foot spacing between groups of no more than 10 (i.e. family groups and unrelated individuals must maintain 6-foot separation) in the pool.
  • Space pool deck tables and chairs to facilitate a 6-foot distance.  

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for movie theaters and museums: 

  • Maximum number of attendees is 50 percent of normal capacity while maintaining 6 feet between non-family member groups. 
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording:
    • “Patrons with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility.”
    • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by patrons, such as on the entry way door.
  • Increase cleaning and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces, including door handles, chairs and tables.
  • Keep social distancing of at least 6 feet between non-family member groups or immediate party. 
  • Food vendors must follow applicable COVID-19 procedures for restaurants and retail food service. Vendors should be encouraged to use single-service items whenever possible, especially for condiments and similar foods.   
  •  Provide hand sanitizer or hand washing stations throughout the venue whenever possible.
  • Increase cleaning and sanitizing of restrooms to no less than every two hours whenever possible. 
  • Provide clear plastic shielding between workers and attendees whenever possible, such as event cashiers and food vendors. 
  • If possible do not use tables. Tables should be covered with single-use material and discarded between users, showings, performances or every two hours, whichever provides maximum spread protection. 
  • Train workers on COVID-19 symptom awareness and proper handwashing procedures.
  • Increase cleaning time period between events, performances and showings. Ensure that commonly touched surfaces such as arm rests and railings are cleaned frequently.
  • Ushers should monitor and enforce social distancing practices in theaters and encourage additional distance between guests as appropriate.
      • Ushers should limit the number of people in lines to no less than 6 feet between families or immediate party.
  • Gift shops should limit entry to 50% capacity and clean commonly touched surfaces frequently. 

State and local requirements for personal care services: 

  • Before reopening, personal care businesses must a complete a Personal Care Service Plan for their business that shows how they will meet the minimum requirements and have it available upon request by the Missoula City-County Health Department.  The plan must cover:
    • employee and client health screening and exclusion,
    • use of personal protective clothing and equipment,
    • reducing capacity and maintaining 6’ physical distance between unassociated clients and staff, and
    • the facility’s enhanced cleaning and sanitizing plan. 
  • Before they begin serving clients again, employees must be provided and sign the “Employee Health Agreement for COVID-19” in Appendix C of the Health Officers May 8 order.
  • Employees must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 pre-shift and clients must be screened before they are served.
  • Employees must wear cloth face coverings or masks when providing services.
  • Clients must wear cloth face coverings or masks, except when receiving services that make a face covering or mask impossible.
  • Waiting area must be limited to 50% capacity with six-foot distancing between clients.
  • Employees must wash hands between each client.
  • Employees providing services where their forearms may touch the client, may not wear sleeves that extend past the elbow, and handwashing between clients must include up to the elbow.
  • Workstations, client chairs, tools and instruments used for personal care services must be disinfected between clients. 
  • An enhanced cleaning plan for the entire facility must be devised and implemented.
  • Stylist stations and client chairs must be arranged in a manner that provides at least 6’ of physical distance between other people in the establishment. The minimum distance of 6’ is between people, not seats or stations. The placement of stations and chairs must accommodate movement of employees and clients through the establishment in a way that maintains at least 6’ separation. 

 Specific requirements for farmers markets: 

  • Before the first event, organizers must a complete a Farmers’ Market Operation Plan that shows how they will meet the minimum requirements and submit it to the Missoula City-County Health Department for approval.  The plan must be submitted at least 8 working days before the first event to envhealth@missoulacounty.us or 301 West Alder, Missoula, MT 59802.  The Department will provide responses to completed plans withing one week of receiving the plan.  Responses may include event-specific requirements or requests for more information.  A market shall not operate without written approval of their Operating Plan from the Missoula City-County Health Department.
  • The market is limited to the sale of unprocessed agricultural products and may not include entertainment or activities.
  • The market must put adequate provisions in place to ensure vendors and customers can maintain 6-foot physical distancing. At a minimum, that must include the following:
    • Organizers must pre-determine the number of people who can safely attend the event so that physical distancing can be maintained.  In no circumstance can the predetermined number exceed 250 people, including vendors, staff, volunteers and customers.  Organizers must ensure that the predetermined number of people is not exceeded at any time during the event.
    • Market ingress, including waiting lines, and egress must be controlled to limit the number of people entering the market, and to control the flow of foot traffic through the market.
    • The market must establish one-way foot traffic through the market.
    • Vendor tables or booths must be set far enough apart so that customers waiting in line or passing to another booth can maintain 6-foot distances from other customers.
    • There must be adequate signage or other means of communicating what is expected of customers once they enter the market.
  • The market must put adequate provisions in place to ensure personal hygiene, sanitation and personal protection.  At a minimum, that must include the following:
    • Vendors, staff and volunteers must be screened for COVID symptoms before each market, and may not remain at the market if they exhibit any COVID symptoms.   
    • Each vendor must have a temporary hand wash station or sanitizer to use throughout the event.
    • Face coverings are strongly recommended for vendors, staff and volunteers, and recommended for customers. 
  • The market must put adequate provisions in place to ensure enhanced cleaning and sanitizing.  At a minimum, that must include frequent cleaning and sanitization of any frequently touched surfaces, including public restrooms used by vendors, staff, volunteers and customers. 

Return to top 

What is still closed?

Per the Governor’s directive, live performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, music halls, interactive museums and pools and hot tubs not in gyms or public accommodations remain closed in Phase One.

Return to top 

How is outdoor recreation affected in Phase I?

In Missoula County, events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events, and races shall be limited to 50 people during Phase One and six-foot physical distance between participants shall be maintained. 

Per the state’s guidance, public lands, fishing access sites, and parks are encouraged to continue to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for local and regional users if users can adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and facilities follow frequent sanitizing protocols. Areas that cannot practicably implement social distancing requirements or sanitation needs will remain closed. Limited campground offerings, group-use facilities and playgrounds may be opened at the discretion of local and state managers. Local, state and federal officials are strongly encouraged to coordinate on all reopening decisions. Guides and outfitters may offer services consistent with any ongoing quarantine travel restrictions provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols. Visitors should check the status of any closures and restrictions before traveling.

On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.

Return to top  

Are nursing homes, senior living or assisted living facilities open to visitors under Phase I?

No. These facilities must continue to prohibit visitors. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed. This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.

Return to top  

Will schools reopen?

Missoula County’s local school boards all voted to continue distance learning (i.e. keep schools closed) through the end of the school year.

Return to top 

Can youth activities resume?

Organized youth activities can consider becoming operational if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. Youth activities must follow the requirements of the Health Officer’s May 8 order that states events and gatherings shall be limited to 50 people during Phase One and six-foot physical distance between participants shall be maintained. 

Return to top 

How are places of worship affected? Can they hold services?

Places of worship can become operational on or after April 26, 2020 with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. Worship service attendance is not limited by the Health Officer’s group size limits for events and gatherings.

Return to top 

 

Can I spend time with groups of people?

Under Phase One, if you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 10 people. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size. Also per the Health Officer’s order events and gatherings such as, but not limited to, fairs, festivals, craft fairs, vendor events, concerts, sporting events and races shall be limited to 50 people during Phase One and six-foot physical distance between participants shall be maintained

 

Return to top 

What are the risks of COVID-19 now that the Stay at Home directive has been lifted?

Your risk of getting COVID-19 has not decreased as the disease is still present and there is no available vaccine.  Your risks of COVID-19 will depend on your behavior, the behavior of those around you, and your underlying health.

 

 

Return to top  

What social distancing measures are required by retail businesses and food and drink establishments in Missoula County?

  • In establishments where customers wait in a line, non-household customers should remain physically distanced, AND
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between non-congregate customers, AND
  • Waiting areas where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained must be closed, AND
  • At any given time, maximum number of customers shall be 50% of usual business capacity, AND
  • Measures are in place to protect customers and staff waiting in line at checkout counters, such as visible markers or signs denoting six-foot separation or temporary barriers, AND
  • All seated groups of customers in food and drink establishments must be at least 6 feet from other customers, including those sitting in booths. AND
  • The business has developed and implemented an individualized plan addressing the requirements in the Governor’s re-opening directive and the Health Officer’s Order. The completed plan must be maintained on site and be made available to the Health Department upon request, AND
  • Customers should be encouraged to call for a reservation or an appointment, or establishments should use an online wait listing application.

Return to top  

Why are touch-based services (salons, barbershops, tattoo artists, etc) closed, but people can still shop in crowded stores?

Touch-based services may reopen May 11 provided they meet the minimum requirements in the Health Officer’s May 8 order.

Return to top  

Will there be graduation ceremonies in Missoula County?

Schools may hold graduation and commencement ceremonies with an approved plan to support social distancing, enhance sanitation, and limit attendees per the May 8 local order.

  • Organizers must a complete a Graduation Ceremony Operation Plan and submit it to the health department for review
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure all staff, volunteers, students and audience members/families can maintain 6-foot physical distancing. At a minimum, that must include the following:
    • Organizers must pre-determine the number of people who can safely attend the event so that physical distancing can be maintained. The Health Officer may limit the overall number of people who may attend the event based on the submitted plan and venue. Organizers must ensure that capacity limitations are not exceeded during the event.
    • Organizers must establish provisions for how to manage participants who are waiting to get into the venue, moving within the venue, seating, and exiting the venue to maximize the ability for people to physically distance.
    • There must be adequate signage or other means of communicating what is expected of attendees once they enter the venue.
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure personal hygiene, sanitation and personal protection.
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure enhanced cleaning and sanitizing. At a minimum, that must include frequent cleaning and sanitization of any frequently touched surfaces, including bathroom facilities.

Return to top 

Why are bingo halls, live performance theaters, music halls, and other places of assembly still closed?

Several places of assembly are still closed by the governor’s directive for Phase One.

Reopening is, by necessity, a gradual process. This is new territory, and it means caution is warranted.  We don’t want to be in a position where we open everything back up (i.e., return to “normal”) and risk significant numbers of new diagnosed cases, and then need to close everything again. Pretty much the last thing anyone wants is to start over with closures and prolonged stay at home orders.  If we open bit by bit and develop new practices and ways of coexisting and caring for each other, we can hopefully keep new cases at a manageable level and transition to our new normal.

Return to top 

Can my yoga/oula/Zumba/etc. classes resume?

Adult classes can only resume if they are outdoors and observe proper physical distancing between participants. Youth activities may resume with 10 or fewer participants unless social distancing can be maintained.

Return to top  

Can I go to a movie theater?

Movie theaters may open on May 15 provided they follow the state’s guidelines, which include limiting occupancy to 50% and maintaining 6-feet of distance between non-family member groups or immediate parties.

Return to top  

Can I go to a museum?

Non-tactile museums may operate starting May 15, provided they follow the state’s guidelines, which include limiting occupancy to 50% and maintaining 6-feet of distance between non-family member groups or immediate parties.  Interactive museums or museums with sections that allow touch interactions with displays must remain closed.

Return to top 

Can live performance theaters open?

No. Under the state’s guidance, live performance theaters must remain closed.

Return to top  

Where can I find information/guidance about the measures that businesses need to take under the current phase?

Our guidance for businesses page: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus/guidance-for-businesses

Return to top   

How can customers support businesses while protecting themselves and others?

Customers have a responsibility to protect employees and other patrons. Respect and abide by the social distancing measures put in place by the business you are visiting. Wear a cloth face covering, wash your hands often, know the symptoms of COVID-19 and do not enter businesses if you are symptomatic. 

Please understand that the changes businesses are implementing are there to keep everyone as healthy as possible so we can continue operating in the new normal and move forward with reopening.  Some businesses may require you to use a cloth face covering. This may feel inconvenient, but it is an important measure to keep employees safe. While you may spend minutes inside and see few people, employees are there all day and are exposed to many people throughout their shift.  When you wear a cloth face covering and abide by physical distance markers, you are helping keep those employees healthy and safe.

Also, some businesses may require you to wait for service or available tables in your vehicle. This, again, is to protect you and their employees.

Take advantage of take-out, online ordering, curbside delivery and other options that limit the time you spend in close quarters with non-household members.

Return to top  

What is still closed?

Some places of assembly, including live performance theaters, bingo halls, and bowling alleys are still closed by the governor’s directive.

Return to top  

What if I have concerns about how a business is operating?

If you see a facility operating that should be closed by these directives and orders, 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

Return to top  

What about yard sales and garage sales?

Garage sales and yard sales may operate during Phase One.  Because these sales bring people together, please keep these tips in mind

If you are holding a garage sale:

  1. Do not hold a garage or yard sale if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
  2. Do not invite people into your space if you are currently isolated or quarantined because of the virus or because you went out of state
  3. Make sure people can spread out
  4. Wear a cloth face covering
  5. Have hand sanitizer available

If you are attending a garage or yard sale:

  1. Do not go to a garage or yard sale if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms associated with COVID-19
  2. Don’t crowd other people at the sale
  3. Wear a cloth face covering
  4. Think about how you might be able to sanitize the items you are buying and understand that a lot of people may have touched them
  5. Sanitize your hands after touching items and wash your hands when you get home
  6. Don’t touch your face until you’ve sanitized or washed your hands.

 Can summer camps operate during Phase One?

Yes. Summer camps may operate, but they need to meet the minimum requirements in the summer camp guidance for Phase One.

Return to top 

What are the group size and physical distancing requirements for summer camps during Phase One?

  • The camp is limited to 50 people total, including kids, staff and volunteers.
  • If physical distancing cannot be maintained at all times, group size within a camp is limited to 10.  A camp can consist of several groups of 10 or fewer, up to 50 people total.  
  • Larger camps can be broken into 50-person units (e.g., Basketball Camp A and Basketball Camp B), as long as check-in, pickup and activities for each 50-person unit occur in distinct and separate places and there is no intermingling of kids or staff from different 50-person units.
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between different families at check-in and pickup.
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between kids who are not in their 10-person or smaller group.

Return to top  

What are physical distancing recommendations for summer camps during Phase One?

  • Keep the same group of children together throughout the day, and as much as possible throughout the week/camp. Where possible, keep family members in the same group.
  • Incorporate 6-foot physical distancing within the group to the degree practical.
  • Limit items shared between children in a group and between groups. 
  • When items are shared between children, remind kids to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after using a shared item. Disinfect items before they are shared with other groups.
  • When using shared transportation, use vehicles that allow physical distancing between groups.

Return to top  

Are daily health checks required for summer camps?

          Daily health checks are required for all staff and volunteers at summer camps. 

          The Health Department recommends health checks for the youth attending the camps, but it is not required.

Return to top  

How does quarantine or isolation affect camp attendance?

  • Staff and kids who have traveled out of Montana in the last 14 days must self-quarantine at home, and are not allowed to attend camp.  On May 19, the governor extended the mandatory travel quarantine directive until Montana enters Phase Two on June 1.
  • Kids or staff who have been contacted by the Health Department because they are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case will be under the direction of a public health nurse for isolation, quarantine and symptom monitoring. If required to isolate or quarantine, they may not attend camp.

Return to top  

Do campers need to wear cloth face coverings?               

Campers and staff are not required to wear cloth face coverings, but the health department recommends face coverings for campers and staff when 6-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained. Specifically:

  • To the extent practical, when 6-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained when interacting with parents or others outside of their assigned camp group, have staff wear cloth face coverings.
  • To the extent practical, have kids and staff wear cloth face coverings when physical distancing is not possible within a group, like during transportation in vans and buses.

Return to top  

Where can I read the requirements and recommendations for summer camps in Phase One?

Summer camp guidance is available here: Minimizing the Risk of Spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Summer Camps during Phase One Reopening

Return to top  

Why doeshave local orders about group size for Phase Two?

The governor’s directive for Phase Two states that individuals planning an event with more than 50 people should consult with their local public health office on a plan to implement adequate social distancing.  The Health Officer’s May 28 order addresses this requirement by providing guidance and setting minimum social distancing requirements for larger groups.

Return to top 

Phase 2 Guidance Tab - Below this tab is listed the guidance regarding Phase 2 Reopening 

 What are the key dates in the phased reopening of Missoula County? 

April 26 -the Stay at Home Directive expires for individuals and places of worship

April 27 – Non-essential retail businesses may reopen to curbside pickup or delivery only

May 1 – Retail businesses, except those with later opening dates, may provide in-store business.  These businesses must meet Missoula County requirements. Each business must create a plan for limiting the number of customers to 50%, providing social distancing measures, employee health screening, and excluding ill employees. Plan must include staff training.

May 4 –Restaurants, bars, distilleries, breweries and casinos can provide service in the dining areas providing they abide by the Governor’s Directive.

May 7 – Local school boards can decide to reopen. *Note – school boards in Missoula County chose to remain closed through the end of the school year.

May 11 - Business and individuals providing grooming, beauty, body art, piercing, massage, spa and similar services, including but not limited to barbers (including barbers and barbers - nonchemical), cosmetologists, electrologists, estheticians may reopen providing they meet the minimum requirements in the Health Officer’s May 8 order.

May 15 – Gyms, pools in gyms, movie theaters and non-interactive museums may reopen providing they follow the governor’s requirements.

May 23 – Farmers markets may reopen providing they meet the minimum requirements in the Health Officer’s May 8 order.

June 1 – Phase Two Reopening Begins – all businesses and places of assembly may open, provided they follow social distancing and sanitation requirements in the governor’s directive and health officer’s May 28 order. Events and gatherings with more than 50 people may resume, but they must adhere to the Health Officer’s May 28 Order and Appendix A for event planning.

Return to top

 

When does Phase Two start?

On May 19, Governor Bullock announced Montana will enter Phase Two on June 1, 2020. 

Return to top

 

Does this mean it’s back to business as usual for facilities allowed to open?

No. The governor’s directive and supplemental guidelines, and Health Officer Ellen Leahy’s order call for reduced occupancy, increased sanitation and disinfection and the implementation of social distancing policies. You can find the latest directives and orders here: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus/general-closure-information  

Return to top 

 

How are vulnerable individuals protected with the Stay at Home Directive lifted?

All vulnerable individuals should continue to follow the stay at home guidance. In addition, members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

Return to top 

 

What are the requirements and recommendations for businesses under Phase Two?

Effective Monday, June 1, employers should: 

  • Continue to encourage telework whenever possible and feasible with business operations. 
    • When telework is not feasible, employers are encouraged to accommodate alternative work schedules such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 
  • Close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate and interact or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • Minimize non-essential business travel.
  • Make special accommodations for members of a vulnerable population or those with vulnerable household members. 

Return to top 

 

Business requirements and guidance from the governor and local health:

  • Health assessments must be conducted for all employees at the beginning of each shift, AND
  • In establishments where customers wait in a line, non-household customers should remain physically distanced, AND
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between non-congregate customers, AND
  • Waiting areas where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained must be closed, AND
  • At any given time, maximum number of customers shall be 75% of usual business capacity, AND
  • Measures are in place to protect customers and staff waiting in line at checkout counters, such as visible markers or signs denoting six-foot separation or temporary barriers, AND
  • Staff have received training on practicing good hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, recognizing the symptoms of COVID-19, and not reporting to work if experiencing symptoms; AND
  • The business has developed and implemented an individualized plan addressing the requirements in the Governor’s re-opening directive and the Health Officer’s Order. The completed plan must be maintained on site and be made available to the Health Department upon request, AND
  • Customers should be encouraged to call for a reservation or an appointment, or establishments should use an online wait listing application. 

Return to top 

 

Governor Bullock’s requirements for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos: 

Dining areas in food and drink establishments such as restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos shall remain closed if the requirements and guidelines in the Governor’s directive cannot be met:

  • Capacity must be limited to 75% of normal operating capacity. AND
  • Table must be limited to 10 people per table. AND
  • All seated groups of customers in food and drink establishments must be at least 6 feet from other customers, including those sitting in booths. AND
  • A specific cleaning plan must be implemented, and employees must be trained in proper sanitation practices. Materials will be available on the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) food and consumer services website. AND
  • All surfaces occupied must be cleaned between customers, including tables, chairs, booths, and highchairs. AND
  • Table items including, condiments, menus, napkins, and décor, should be removed from the table unless they can be adequately cleaned between customers. AND
  • Menus must be cleaned between customers. AND
  • Growlers and refillable or reusable containers must be cleaned prior to being refilled. AND
  • Gaming machines must be adequately cleaned between customers. AND
  • All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants and casinos by 11:30 p.m. (Breweries and distilleries shall follow existing laws on closing time.).

Return to top 

 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for gyms: 

  • Facility must have a dedicated staff available during operating hours to wipe down frequently touched areas on a regular basis and monitor gyms zones to ensure that users are wiping down equipment properly. 
  • Train workers on symptom awareness and proper handwashing technique. 
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording:
    • “Patrons with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using the gym”
    • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by gym guests, such as at the front desk and in locker rooms.
  • Hand sanitizer must be made available at front desk and at stations throughout the workout area.  
  • Approved sanitizer for cleaning equipment after use must be provided at stations throughout the workout areas along with disposable towels. Reusable towels shall not be used to clean equipment. 
  • Post signs throughout workout area reminding patrons to wipe equipment after each use. 
  • Six-foot distance should be maintained between equipment. Cardio studios should limit guests to every other piece of equipment to achieve this. 
  • Guest using free weights shall maintain six feet of separation except when a spotter is necessary. In this instance, workout groups shall be limited to two people. 
  • Sitting areas must be closed for use. 
  • Food vendors must follow applicable COVID-19 procedures for restaurants and retail food service. Vendors should be encouraged to use single-service items whenever possible, especially for condiments and similar foods.    
  • Social distancing must be maintained in dressing rooms and other common areas. No congregating in these areas may be allowed. 
  • After closing, establishments must clean using an EPA approved disinfectant. Twenty-four-hour establishments must close from 11:30 pm to 12am so that proper disinfection can happen.
    • Facility must develop a checklist to ensure that no equipment is being missed during disinfection. Checklist should include large items, such as treadmills and smaller items, such as weights and bands. 
  • Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day and disinfected each night after closing. 
  • Personal training sessions may be offered with strict adherence to social distancing guidelines and masks are encouraged to be used by the trainer and trainee. 
  • Additional time between group classes must be provided so that a designated gym employee can disinfect any equipment and other cleanable surfaces before the next class begins. 

Return to top 

 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for pools at gyms: 

  • Only registered members can use the facility, no day passes or walk-ins
  • Train workers on symptom awareness and proper handwashing procedures
  • Pool classes may continue; if:
    • All social distancing requirements must be observed during class; and
    • Any equipment used can be easily cleaned and disinfected between users.
  • Youth swim lessons may be offered in-line with previous guidance for Phase 1, which includes youth activities should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Front desk/gate attendant tracks occupancy, incoming and outgoing to ensure maximum occupancy does not exceed 75% capacity of normal bather load;
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording: “Members with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility.”
  • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by members, such as on the entry way door
  •  No congregating in waiting areas, patrons should wait in an appropriately spaced line or way that observes social distancing
  • Signage must be posted on the locker room door with the following or substantially similar wording, “Observe social distancing while using this facility. No loitering in common areas.”
  • Social distancing should be applied in all common areas
  • 6-foot spacing between unassociated members (i.e. not family members) in the pool.
  • 6-foot spacing between groups of no more than 10 (i.e. family groups and unrelated individuals must maintain 6-foot separation) in the pool.
  • Space pool deck tables and chairs to facilitate a 6-foot distance.  

Return to top 

 

Governor Bullock’s requirements and guidance for places of assembly, i.e. indoor and outdoor concert venues, bowling alleys, theaters, museums, etc. 

  •  In the event a confirmed COVID-19 case is associated with a facility the facility should clean in accordance with CDC’s facility environmental cleaning procedures for areas of the establishment frequented by patrons.
  • Maximum number of attendees is 75 percent of normal capacity while maintaining 6 feet between non-family member groups. 
  • Signage must be posted with the following or substantially similar wording:
    • “Patrons with fever, shortness of breath, a cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms must refrain from using this facility.”
    • Signs shall be positioned for effective visual observation by patrons, such as on the entry way door.
  • Increase cleaning and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces, including door handles, chairs and tables.
  • Keep social distancing of at least 6 feet between non-family member groups or immediate party. 
  • Food vendors must follow applicable COVID-19 procedures for restaurants and retail food service. Vendors should be encouraged to use single-service items whenever possible, especially for condiments and similar foods.   
  • Facilities should try to control customer flow in a manner that maximizes social distancing such as signage or ropes and directing flow in one direction.
  •  Provide hand sanitizer or hand washing stations throughout the venue whenever possible.
  • Increase cleaning and sanitizing of restrooms to no less than every two hours whenever possible. 
  • Each venue should create and implement a written COVID-19 response plan.
  • Provide clear plastic shielding between workers and attendees whenever possible, such as event cashiers and food vendors. 
  • If possible do not use tables. Tables should be covered with single-use material and discarded between users, showings, performances or every two hours, whichever provides maximum spread protection. 
  • Train workers on COVID-19 symptom awareness and proper handwashing procedures.
  • Increase cleaning time period between events, performances and showings. Ensure that commonly touched surfaces such as arm rests and railings are cleaned frequently.
  • Ushers should monitor and enforce social distancing practices in theaters and encourage additional distance between guests as appropriate.
      • Ushers should limit the number of people in lines to no less than 6 feet between families or immediate party.
  • Gift shops should limit entry to 75% capacity and clean commonly touched surfaces frequently. 

 Return to top  

 

State and local requirements for personal care services: 

  • Before reopening, personal care businesses must a complete a Personal Care Service Plan for their business that shows how they will meet the minimum requirements and have it available upon request by the Missoula City-County Health Department.  The plan must cover:
    • employee and client health screening and exclusion,
    • use of personal protective clothing and equipment,
    • reducing capacity and maintaining 6’ physical distance between unassociated clients and staff, and
    • the facility’s enhanced cleaning and sanitizing plan. 

  • Before they begin serving clients again, employees must be provided and sign the “Employee Health Agreement for COVID-19” in Appendix B of the Health Officer’s May 28 order.
  • Employees must be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 pre-shift and clients must be screened before they are served.
  • Employees must wear cloth face coverings or masks when providing services.
  • Clients must wear cloth face coverings or masks, except when receiving services that make a face covering or mask impossible.
  • Waiting area must be limited to 75% capacity with six-foot distancing between clients.
  • Employees must wash hands between each client.
  • Employees providing services where their forearms may touch the client, may not wear sleeves that extend past the elbow, and handwashing between clients must include up to the elbow.
  • Workstations, client chairs, tools and instruments used for personal care services must be disinfected between clients. 
  • An enhanced cleaning plan for the entire facility must be devised and implemented.
  • Stylist stations and client chairs must be arranged in a manner that provides at least 6’ of physical distance between other people in the establishment. The minimum distance of 6’ is between people, not seats or stations. The placement of stations and chairs must accommodate movement of employees and clients through the establishment in a way that maintains at least 6’ separation. 

Return to top 

 

What is still closed?

No businesses or places of assembly remain closed by a directive or order in Phase Two.  However, establishments that cannot meet the social distancing requirements in the Governor’s May 19 Directive or Health Officer’s May 28 Order cannot operate.

Return to top

 

How is outdoor recreation affected in Phase Two?

Per the Governor’s May 19 Directive, groups are limited to no more than 50 people         without social distancing. This may impact some outdoor group recreation. For groups      larger than 50 people, Missoula County residents must adhere to the social distancing      requirements in the Health Officer’s May 28 order.

Per the state’s guidance, public lands, fishing access sites, and parks are encouraged to continue to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for local and regional users if users can adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and facilities follow frequent sanitizing protocols. Areas that cannot practicably implement social distancing requirements or sanitation needs will remain closed. Limited campground offerings, group-use facilities and playgrounds may be opened at the discretion of local and state managers. Local, state and federal officials are strongly encouraged to coordinate on all reopening decisions. Guides and outfitters may offer services consistent with any ongoing quarantine travel restrictions provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines and sanitation protocols. Visitors should check the status of any closures and restrictions before traveling.

Return to top 

 

Are nursing homes, senior living or assisted living facilities open to visitors under Phase Two?

No. These facilities must continue to prohibit visitors in Phase Two. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed. This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.

Return to top 

 

Will schools reopen?

Missoula County’s local school boards all voted to continue distance learning (i.e. keep schools closed) through the end of the school year.

 Return to top  

 

Can youth activities resume?

Organized youth activities can consider becoming operational if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. If more than 50 people will be present, youth activities must follow the requirements of Appendix A of the Health Officer’s May 28 order regarding COVID-19 Event Plans.

 Return to top 

 

How are places of worship affected? Can they hold services?

Yes. Avoid gathering in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.

Return to top 

 

Can I spend time with groups of people?

Under Phase Two, if you cannot maintain at least six feet of space between individuals, group size is limited to 50 people. You should strive to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals regardless of group size.

 Return to top  

 

What social distancing measures are required by retail businesses and food and drink establishments in Missoula County?

  • In establishments where customers wait in a line, non-household customers should remain physically distanced, AND
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between non-congregate customers, AND
  • Waiting areas where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained must be closed, AND
  • At any given time, maximum number of customers must be 75% of usual business capacity, AND
  • Measures are in place to protect customers and staff waiting in line at checkout counters, such as visible markers or signs denoting six-foot separation or temporary barriers, AND
  • All seated groups of customers in food and drink establishments must be at least 6 feet from other customers, including those sitting in booths. AND
  • The business has developed and implemented an individualized plan addressing the requirements in the Governor’s re-opening directive and the Health Officer’s Order. The completed plan must be maintained on site and be made available to the Health Department upon request, AND
  • Customers should be encouraged to call for a reservation or an appointment, or establishments should use an online wait listing application.

Return to top 

 

Will there be graduation ceremonies in Missoula County?

Schools may hold graduation and commencement ceremonies with an approved plan to support social distancing, enhance sanitation, and limit attendees per the May 8 local order.

  • Organizers must a complete a Graduation Ceremony Operation Plan and submit it to the health department for review
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure all staff, volunteers, students and audience members/families can maintain 6-foot physical distancing. At a minimum, that must include the following:
    • Organizers must pre-determine the number of people who can safely attend the event so that physical distancing can be maintained. The Health Officer may limit the overall number of people who may attend the event based on the submitted plan and venue. Organizers must ensure that capacity limitations are not exceeded during the event.
    • Organizers must establish provisions for how to manage participants who are waiting to get into the venue, moving within the venue, seating, and exiting the venue to maximize the ability for people to physically distance.
    • There must be adequate signage or other means of communicating what is expected of attendees once they enter the venue.
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure personal hygiene, sanitation and personal protection.
  • Organizers must put adequate provisions in place to ensure enhanced cleaning and sanitizing. At a minimum, that must include frequent cleaning and sanitization of any frequently touched surfaces, including bathroom facilities.

Return to top 

 

Can my yoga/oula/Zumba/etc. classes resume?

Yes. In Phase Two, gyms and fitness facilities may offer indoor group fitness classes at 75 percent capacity. The classes must adhere to strict physical distancing and operators must exercise frequent sanitation protocols.

Return to top 

 

Can I go to a movie theater?

Movie theaters may open provided they follow the state’s guidelines, which include limiting occupancy to 75% and maintaining 6-feet of distance between non-family member groups or immediate parties.

 Return to top   

 

Can I go to a museum?

Yes, museums may operate provided they follow the state’s guidelines, which include limiting occupancy to 75% and maintaining 6-feet of distance between non-family member groups or immediate parties. 

 Return to top  

 

Can live performance theaters open?

Yes. Per the governor’s May 19 Directive, live performance theaters may open in Phase Two. They must follow the state’s guidance, which includes limiting occupancy to 75% and maintaining 6-feet of distance between non-family member groups or immediate parties. 

 Return to top   

 

Where can I find information/guidance about the measures that businesses need to take under the current phase?

Our guidance for businesses page: https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus/guidance-for-businesses

 Return to top   

 

How can customers support businesses while protecting themselves and others?

Customers have a responsibility to protect employees and other patrons. Respect and abide by the social distancing measures put in place by the business you are visiting. Wear a cloth face covering, wash your hands often, know the symptoms of COVID-19 and do not enter businesses if you are symptomatic. 

Please understand that the changes businesses are implementing are there to keep everyone as healthy as possible so we can continue operating in the new normal and move forward with reopening.  Some businesses may require you to use a cloth face covering. This may feel inconvenient, but it is an important measure to keep employees safe. While you may spend minutes inside and see few people, employees are there all day and are exposed to many people throughout their shift.  When you wear a cloth face covering and abide by physical distance markers, you are helping keep those employees healthy and safe.

Also, some businesses may require you to wait for service or available tables in your vehicle. This, again, is to protect you and their employees.

Take advantage of take-out, online ordering, curbside delivery and other options that limit the time you spend in close quarters with non-household members.

 Return to top 

 

What is still closed?

No businesses or places of assembly remain closed by directive or order in Phase Two.  However, establishments that cannot meet the social distancing requirements in the Governor’s May 19 Directive or Health Officer’s May 28 Order cannot operate.  

 Return to top  

What if I have concerns about how a business is operating?

If you see a facility operating that is not following the governor’s directives or health officer’s orders, DO NOT call 911! If you have a complaint, 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.

 Return to top   

 

What about yard sales and garage sales?

Garage sales and yard sales may operate during Phase Two.  Because these sales bring people together, please keep these tips in mind

If you are holding a garage sale:

  1. Do not hold a garage or yard sale if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
  2. Do not invite people into your space if you are currently isolated or quarantined because of the virus or because you went out of state
  3. Make sure people can spread out
  4. Wear a cloth face covering
  5. Have hand sanitizer available

If you are attending a garage or yard sale:

  1. Do not go to a garage or yard sale if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms associated with COVID-19
  2. Don’t crowd other people at the sale
  3. Wear a cloth face covering
  4. Think about how you might be able to sanitize the items you are buying and understand that a lot of people may have touched them
  5. Sanitize your hands after touching items and wash your hands when you get home
  6. Don’t touch your face until you’ve sanitized or washed your hands.