Ellen Leahy – Mask Mandate Lifted and Masks Now Only Recommended
Missoula City County Health Officer Ellen Leahy made it official on Monday: The mask mandate has been lifted, and the masks that were once required are now only recommended.
Leahy spoke to KGVO News on Monday morning.
“We met our goal of 60% having at least one dose of the vaccine,” said Leahy. “So that was the goal that the board set in their fourth phase of rescinding restrictions. It was the last phase and it triggers the removal of the local mask mandate. and so I was directed that when we hit that trigger to go ahead and rescind, and then issue recommendations, and so I issued those recommendations.”
Leahy clarified the vaccination numbers.
“60% having received the first dose and that was our intermediate goal,” she said. “52% fully immunized and that's out of the eligible population. Our herd immunity number is much lower because with herd immunity we look at the entire population. The statistics we're using right here is that we're just looking at progress among the eligible population which currently is age 16 and up.”
Leahy addressed a bill signed on Friday by Governor Gianforte that curtailed the authority of county health officers over local businesses.
“We didn't really have to wrestle with the full interpretation of that yet, because we expected that we were meeting our vaccine goal, which meant we were going to rescind the mask mandate just as the board had planned,” she said. “However, until I saw the vaccine numbers this morning, I didn't want to announce that on Friday because I needed to see those numbers. They only come out once a week. That said, we are putting that bill and another bill 108 on the agenda for the regular may health board meeting.”
Regarding signs that have been placed in businesses throughout the county that masks are required, Leahy said they are no longer officially in effect.
“They can take their required sign down if they want to, because the Health Board is no longer requiring it because we met these goals,” she sail. “However, they can also if they wish to still have that in place in their business, they can still require it in their business, or they can put recommendations up and they still have the choice to do that. I expect that some places will continue to do that.”
Leahy said any privately owned business may still require masks and social distancing if they choose to do so, however, it is no longer required by the County Health Board.
In addition, Leahy said the Missoula COVID 19 Vaccination Team has been deactivated, since a majority of adults have received the vaccine.
Leahy said that Glacier County, home of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, has forged ahead of Missoula County with the highest percentage of vaccinated adults, with Missoula a close second.