Missoula Health Dept. to release UM's COVID numbers each week

Posted at 9:49 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 20:49:38-04

Three weeks ago classes at the University of Montana began for the fall semester, and as to be expected, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are beginning to surface on campus.

In keeping the public informed, the Health Department will now post those University specific cases to their website.

Incident Commander Cindy Farr said it took some time to bring this feature to the public. They first had to consult their legal team on the best way to offer transparency while still protecting the privacy of their patients.

“But we do want to be able to have that transparency and the university would like to be able to have that transparency,” said Farr.

To date, there have been a total of six COVID-19 cases confirmed at UM, three of those cases are considered active at this time.

Each of those active cases has an average of 12 close contacts, which Farr said is both standard and encouraging.

“Just because school started, we didn't see a huge spike in cases, you know, really cases remain pretty small and pretty manageable.”

As it cools off outside, and our options for recreation dwindle, Farr suspects we’ll see more cases out of the University as students gather indoors.

If and when our cases climb, the Health Department is ready to respond with new resources. Just Wednesday, they began rapid testing at their county clinic on Flynn Lane.

“Everything can happen much more quickly,” said Farr, “ So if we were to get a rapid positive, then we know right then that they're a positive person, we can give them their instructions for isolation, we can start generating that list of contacts, we can get a hold of those contacts and get those contacts into quarantine, and start that that process way faster.”

Farr said timing is crucial in handling the pandemic.

“It just means it's going to help us control the spread even more quickly than what we've already been able to do.”