UM COVID Communication: October 11, 2021

For Close Contacts to Positive Cases of COVID-19

We continue to receive questions about what to do if you’re a close contact to a positive case. The short answer: it depends. And that can be confusing. Above is a quick infographic that’s easy to follow and provides the current guidance for close contacts.

Travel Plans for Thanksgiving? Get Vaccine NOW to Protect Yourself and Family Members

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance notes that individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose (of a two-dose series of Pfizer of Moderna) or after the single dose of the J&J vaccine. If you want to be fully vaccinated before you travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, you should be seeking your first dose of Pfizer or Moderna this week. Getting whatever vaccine you choose as soon as possible will ensure you’re fully vaccinated and healthy to travel. Plus, if you’re planning to gather with friends and family, you’ll reduce the chance of becoming ill or unknowingly infecting others if you have COVID-19 but aren’t experiencing symptoms. While no vaccine is 100%, they are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19. The Health Services Pharmacy inside Curry Health Center provides vaccination on a walk-in basis during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 406-243-5171 if you have questions.

UM Data Dashboard Current on Missoula Website

With high case numbers in Missoula County since the start of the semester, the UM data dashboard had lagged due to the volume of case investigation and staffing challenges at the Missoula City-County Health Department. However, last week  MCCHD officials shared that case numbers on the dashboard are largely up-to-date at this time. The only area where data are lagging is movement of “active” cases to the “recovered” category. (Note: This dashboard cannot fully account for positive test results from over-the-counter tests and does not include data for close contacts to positive cases.)

Need an Asymptomatic COVID-19 Test but Not a Verified Close Contact?

While MCCHD and Curry Health Center are limiting testing to symptomatic individuals or close contacts due to testing volume, here are some options for getting an asymptomatic test in Missoula:

  • Walgreens. This website will walk you through the process to schedule an appointment and provide which locations near you offer PCR testing, rapid tests (IDNow), etc. Testing is available for ages 3 and up.
  • CostCare, PLLC offers symptomatic testing ONLY at their location at 3031 S. Russell St. Asymptomatic travel testing (only) is offered at 2819 Great Northern Loop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend testing is from and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 3031 South Russell. There is an $85 dollar fee for asymptomatic travel testing, with results in one to three days.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) tests. Availability varies store-to-store, but OTC COVID-19 tests are available at many pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. Typically, the cost ranges from $25 to $35 for a box with two tests.

(Note: This may not be a complete list. We will add to this list as we are aware of additional options.)

Montana Second Only to Alaska in Current COVID-19 Surge

Montana has the second-highest COVID-19 incidence rate in the U.S., behind only Alaska, according to the Mayo Clinic. On the interactive map you can see what the incidence has been for the past 60 days. Missoula County recorded five deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, among the highest death rates for a single day. Health department officials remind us that the best way to avoid serious illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19 is vaccination.

Montana Public Radio has several stories related to COVID-19 and the impacts of the virus across our state.

FDA Panel Recommends Booster Dose for Moderna, J&J Vaccines

On Oct. 15, the Food and Drug Administration’s expert vaccine panel recommended a booster dose of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendation comes a day after the same panel recommended a booster for the Moderna vaccine, so now there’s support for boosters for all three vaccines currently available in the U.S. The FDA and CDC previously authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for people over age 65 and for adults who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. The availability of Moderna and J&J booster vaccines will depend on final FDA and CDC approvals, which are expected later this week or next.

Masks, Hand-washing, Distancing Still Important to Mitigate COVID-19 Spread

While we know vaccination is the most effective way to minimize your risks from COVID-19, continuing to wear masks indoors, washing hands and practicing social distancing whenever possible are still important and effective ways to reduce transmission. Let’s work together to keep cases low on campus so that we stay together and protect those most vulnerable in our community.

Be well,

COVID Response Team

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