MISSOULA — Missoula County’s COVID-19 numbers have been climbing and MTN News checked with Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy to learn how and why the pandemic is evolving locally.
The numbers indicated 20-to 29-year olds made up the bulk of the county's coronavirus cases for weeks. But now this age group is transmitting the disease to others -- in particular, folks 70 and up.
"We are now seeing cases in our long-term care facilities in the county and that is very worrisome," said Leahy who attributes the uptick and spread to a couple of factors.
Clusters are popping up in social settings, extracurricular activities and events and she pointed out that COVID-19 fatigue certainly isn’t helping the situation.
"Where we're spreading it amongst ourselves is to our families and our friends and our co-workers," Leahy explained. "That's where we relax, we think, 'oh, we know this person, um, take our mask off, sit down close, have a chat, get together'. That's where the spread occurs.
People now need to be prepared for some changes including bars and restaurants having unannounced inspections from the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD). Additionally, senior care facilities could receive new restrictions in the coming days.
If our recent spike in cases says anything, it’s that the spread of COVID-19 should not be downplayed. But, we can look to the way the pandemic started and know that we can get our numbers back down.
"We are still at a lower incidence rate than the state average incident rate. And we are still at a lower new case rate than a state average new case rate," Leahy pointed out. "So, relatively speaking, we still have and are taking the opportunity to keep pushing back down."
Missoula's recent uptick in cases has already forced some businesses to pivot. Imagine Nation Brewery, a popular spot in Missoula, announced Monday they would be moving to takeout and deliveries only through the winter.