The new orders from Missoula City County Health Officer Ellen Leahy officially take effect at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Incident Commander Cindy Farr provided current COVID numbers, including more deaths reported over the past week.

“Over the weekend we had four additional deaths, and again, they were people that were middle aged or older but had complications from COVID 19 infection,” said Farr. “Our numbers today are 21 new cases, which puts us at 623 current active cases with a little over 1300 active close contacts that are in isolation and quarantine. Our average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days are 49, and we would like to see that number dip below 25.”

One of the questions most often asked health department officials concerns high school sports, such as basketball. Farr and Health Officer Ellen Leahy are more concerned about the potential infection rate at basketball games, primarily because the games take place indoors, sometimes in smaller venues. The new limit is now 25 people in a single group.

“That will only apply to the spectators and not to the student athletes,” she said. “If the spectators can't socially distance then it would only be 25 persons, however if they can do social distancing, they just have to have a plan that basically says how they're going to keep people socially distanced during the game. It depends on the size of the crowd. So if it's 26 to 250, they just need to have a plan in place and show it to the health department if, but if it's more than 250 they must submit the plan prior to the event occurring and get written approval for it.”

Farr reiterated the steps that the public can take to get COVID 19 infections back to a manageable number.

“Making sure that you're keeping your social circle small, voluntarily staying at home, and if you don't have to go out then it's okay to just stay at home and keep your family isolated from other people for a little while so that we can try and get these numbers under control,” she said. “It's important to continue to wash your hands, make sure that you're getting tested. If you have even the slightest symptoms, it's important to get tested.”

As with all the death announcements, no other information was provided, other than that they were middle aged or older. Missoula County has counted 14 deaths as of this week.