Aug. 6, 2020: Montana Invests in University System COVID-19 Testing

Dear Campus Community,

You may have heard today’s announcement by Gov. Steve Bullock regarding investments in COVID-19 testing capability for the Montana University System. Specifically, the governor announced a $20 million investment in testing and initiatives to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Today’s announcement is great news – and it strengthens our strategy to manage COVID-19 on our campus through increased testing and support. This news follows many weeks of discussion and collaboration among the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, university system officials and the Governor’s Office. UM’s Health Advisory Group and Curry Health Center team were instrumental in shaping not only our campus strategy, but the broader university system discussions around testing. I want to thank them for their expertise and guidance throughout this process.

The priority for this investment will be, first and foremost, to bolster our ability to confirm COVID-19 infection in symptomatic individuals and respond rapidly to prevent further transmission. While the details are still being discussed, this investment will include vital support for our medical personnel at Curry Health Center, testing supplies and other support. Second, this investment will allow us to explore surveillance testing for asymptomatic groups of individuals considered to be at higher risk for contracting and transmitting the virus. Early detection of positive cases, effective and timely contact tracing, and rapid isolation/quarantine measures for positive cases are all critical components in our Healthy Fall 2020 planning.

As we move closer to the start of the semester, please know we continue to work closely with Missoula City-County Health Department and our Health Advisory Group on best practices and proactive strategies around our COVID-19 response.

As Commissioner Clay Christian noted in today’s update, testing is not a “silver bullet” in our fight against COVID-19. Personal responsibility is more important than ever as we prepare to begin the semester. Wear your mask, maintain physical distancing and wash your hands. Please help our students remember these important mitigations. They are the small individual actions that will make a big difference for all!

Be well,

Seth