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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

National Guard Troops Are On The Way As Missoula Breaks Another COVID Record

A health care worker shows someone how to swab their nose for COVID-19 at Missoula County's testing site, September 17, 2021.
Freddy Monares
/
Montana Public Radio
A health care worker shows someone how to swab their nose for COVID-19 at Missoula County's testing site, September 17, 2021.

Two dozen Montana National Guard personnel arrive in Missoula next week to help the county handle what officials say is its deteriorating COVID situation. Missoula County’s Office of Emergency Management Director requested the 24 National Guard troops Friday morning.

Director Adriane Beck tells MTPR the state approved her request within hours. The soldiers arrive in Missoula next Friday to help the county handle it’s surging COVID case count.

City-County Health Department Incident Commander Cindy Farr says 48 people are now hospitalized with COVID in Missoula: the most since the pandemic’s start. Missoula has also broken its record set last year for average new daily cases per week.

“The record was previously 85 on November 21st last year. Today it’s 87. For context, anything above 25 is considered a tipping point of rapid spread in the community. We are way beyond that point.”

The National Guard troops will work in a variety of non-clinical roles at both local hospitals and a former motel purchased by the city for quarantine and isolation of people who have COVID-19 and need non-congregant shelter.

At least three other Montana hospitals, in Helena, Billings and Butte have requested National Guard assistance.

During a press call Friday a frustrated City-County Health Officer D’Shane Barnett said he’s frequently asked about Missoula’s lack of mask mandates or limitations on event sizes.

“Unfortunately we have anti-health state legislators who went out of their way to make that not possible.”

A reference to laws passed out of the Legislature limiting the power of public health agencies.

Missoula health officials today literally begged Missoulians to get vaccinated.

Mayor Jon Engen said a discussion was held this week about possibly paying people to get the vaccine. He offered no details about that conversation.

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