The Missoula City County Health Department has issued new more relaxed restrictions for long term care facilities and nursing homes with communal spaces, following Governor Gianforte’s order expanding vaccinations to all over the age of 16 in Montana.

Health Officer Ellen Leahy provided details.

“I think this new revised order will be a welcome relief for families and friends of loved ones in long term care facilities because it allows visitation,” said Leahy. That will be in effect unless there's actually a COVID outbreak in that setting, but for most of them right now, there's not.”

Leahy praised local pharmacies for bringing vaccination clinics to those facilities.

“They've also had their vaccine visits from the federal pharmacies and some of the settings that weren't actually on that program had vaccine visits arranged by the Missoula county vaccine coordination team,” she said. “And so we're opening up visitation with certain requirements and the most important one, of course, is masking.”

Leahy also brought up the issue of what may happen if the resident has a roommate.

“Let's say the person you're visiting has a roommate,” she said. “In the order it’s therefore required that you meet with your loved one, family member or friend in a different private setting in that facility, rather than right in the same room with the roommate just in case there is any exposure.”

Leahy said the wearing of a proper mask or face covering is essential when visiting anyone in a long term care facility or nursing home.

“The Centers for Disease Control continues to have much more stringent definitions of what a close contact is because, first of all, a congregate care setting and so it affects other people in that same residence,” she said. “We're going to keep that mask order in place because that allows a lot more activities that couldn't take place this early as long as we can keep that protective mask barrier between people.”


Following, find the full order from the health department.


‘1. Visitors are allowed in the facility if the following requirements are met:

. Face coverings or masks are required at all times, in accordance with the February 12,

2021 Health Board Rule.

. Visitation occurs in a private room that is not shared by another resident.

. Visitors must also wear face coverings in private rooms.

. Signs are posted at all entryways stating that “All visitors ages five and older must wear

a face covering or mask at all times.”


  1. New admits and patients being transferred from another health care facility, including those being readmitted after hospital discharge, shall be quarantined for 14 days from the admit or transfer date.


  1. Only facilities that can maintain strict isolation may admit COVID-19 patients from hospital discharge while the patient’s isolation period is still in effect. Group activities and communal dining are only allowed if the follow conditions are met:


. The facility is not under specific orders due to the presence of COVID-19;

. Participants and diners wear cloth face coverings at all times, except when actively

eating or drinking, and;

. Participants and diners maintain at least 6-feet physical distance from others at all



  1. Group activities are not allowed at facilities that are under specific Orders issued due to the presence of COVID-19.
  2. All staff shall wear at least surgical masks, cloth masks are not acceptable; use universal precautions and related PPE for all personal care; and fit tested N-95’s when providing oral care to a suspected or known COVID-19 case and when performing any aerosolizing procedures on any resident or patient, regardless of known COVID-19 status.


  1. Residents or patients shall wear a cloth face covering except when outside or alone in a

separate room.


  1. Any facility that experiences a positive COVID-19 test among staff or residents shall offer testing to all residents and provide testing to all staff regardless of symptoms. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will provide test kits and analysis, the facility is responsible for collecting the specimens.


  1. COVID-19 symptom checks shall occur twice daily for all residents and once at shift onset for staff.
  2. Staff are not allowed to work if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.


  1. Patients or residents who have COVID-19 compatible symptoms, or who receive a positive test result, must be immediately isolated.


Leahy and Vaccination Team Leader Adriane Beck will appear on Monday’s Talk Back Show from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to take calls from listeners.

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