With COVID 19 numbers rocketing higher since the latest local restrictions were put in place, Health Department COVID Incident Commander Cindy Farr explained why no further restrictions have been implemented.

“Where we're actually seeing the spread is in people who hang out together; the friends, the families that are outside of your own household that are still coming together for things like dinner parties or backyard barbecues,” said Farr. “These are these are the ways that we're actually spreading it to each other, and so we're not looking at new restrictions at this time, because it's in the hands of the public to follow the things that are happening in the regulated communities.”

Farr addressed the attitude that many have shown that they intend to celebrate the holidays as they have in the past, willing to take the risk of COVID spread.

“While it may not impact you and you getting COVID may not be the biggest concern, it is possible that you could take that home to an elderly loved one, you could take it to someone who has a compromising health condition that it could have serious consequences or death from COVID,” she said. “I know, we're all tired of COVID. We just want it to go away, but we really just need to hold on for a few more months until we can start getting vaccine available to people and that we can start building up some immunity so that we can return back to a normal life.”

Regarding the hope for a COVID 19 vaccine, Farr provided the information given to her about the hierarchy of who would receive the vaccine first.

“So there have been some discussions,” she said. “The information that's coming down from the CDC is that the first tier people that may be able to get the vaccine may be able to get it in the next three to four weeks, and that is going to originate in frontline workers that work in health care settings.”

Farr said the rest of the population, if a vaccine is approved for general use, would have to wait for several more months to be vaccinated.

“It could be late spring before it's widely available to anyone in the public,” she said. “It's going to be very much like it was for the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic where they rolled out the vaccine. Only a little bit came at first and then they gave us the very specific groups of people that were able to get that vaccine and then as that vaccine became available then they were able to move on to other groups.”

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Farr has said in the past that it will be three to four weeks before determining if the holiday was a ‘super-spreader’ event in Missoula and all of Montana.

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