Montana Public Radio

Missoula County Will Publish UM COVID-19 Numbers Weekly

Sep 3, 2020

The University of Montana’s COVID-19 numbers are going to be shared each week by the Missoula City-County Health Department. Both confirmed COVID-19 cases and close contacts of COVID-19 cases will be included.

UM President Seth Bodnar announced the policy change in a Tuesday email.

Officials from both UM and Montana State University had said they wouldn’t release the information publicly to protect student privacy. The Gallatin City-County Health Department has begun releasing the number of cases associated with MSU each week.

UM’s Faculty Senate asked officials last week to publish data showing campus’ COVID-19 prevalence on a daily schedule. Faculty Senate Chair Chris Palmer said a weekly update does not cut it.

“I think faculty would like to see the information updated more frequently than just once a week,” he said.

Palmer called on officials to release additional information, including how many students are quarantined in dorms. Students and staff can use this information to decide if it’s safe for them to be on campus, he said, or if they want to work remotely.

Officials could release more information if cases on campus surge, says Missoula-City County Health Department’s Cindy Farr. She explained that until then, the information could be identifying.

“If we start getting bigger numbers of cases, then we may be able to be updating that information more often than weekly,” Farr said.

The updates will be broken down into cumulative cases, active cases and close contacts.