Residents urged to reduce social circles
August 26, 2021
The Missoula City-County Health Department is asking residents to reduce the number of people in their social circles as COVID-19 case counts rise rapidly in the community.
Not only is the Delta variant more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19, the Health Department’s case investigation team has noticed most positive cases are reporting between 10 - 25 close contacts on average. During our last winter surge of COVID-19, most positive cases only reported six close contacts on average.
The contact tracing team is racing to notify close contacts as quickly as possible. However, with roughly 60 new cases per day on average in Missoula County, the backlog of close contacts who need to be notified is growing quickly.
Aside from reducing social circles, residents can help in the follow ways:
• Do not call the Health Department asking for close contact documentation. Close contacts calling the 258-INFO line is slowing down our notification response time.
• If you know you are a close contact, please self-quarantine until you hear from the Health Department. A close contact is someone who spent 15 or more cumulative minutes within 24 hours of a person’s infectious period.
• If you develop symptoms, please get tested for COVID-19 then self-isolate.
• Wear a mask in public places where social distancing isn’t possible.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
• Get vaccinated if you have not done so already.
The Health Department would also like citizens to be aware that our delay in reaching out to close contacts will in no way impact their quarantine time. Quarantine time is determined based on the date they were exposed, not the date the Health Department makes contact. They are hiring more contact tracers and are aiming to clear this communication backlog soon.