Missoula Health Department on Masks, Vaccinations and Mu Variant
Missoula City County Health Department COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr had stern words for residents in a video released on Friday, warning of rapidly rising COVID cases and hospitalizations.
Farr referenced a report by the Montana Nurses Association that slammed a recent emergency ruling by the Montana DPHHS and the governor’s office stating that mask and vaccination mandates should only be recommendations.
“The Montana Nurses Association announced that they have serious concerns with the scientific inaccuracy and legality of a rule recently put out by the governor's office and DPHHS,” said Farr. “That rule stated that the science on masks is inconclusive and parents should be given an option to have their kids not wear masks in schools. The Missoula City County Health Department agrees with MNA’s assessment, that the evidence is overwhelming that wearing masks does help slow the spread of COVID 19.”
Farr doubled down on that view stating that the Centers for Disease Control issued a study stating that masks are effective against the transmission of COVID-19.
“In fact, this week, the CDC came out with yet another new study that shows that masks work,” she said. “The study conducted at St. Louis University found the widespread use of masks and less contact or time spent close to persons with COVID-19 can limit the spread of the virus in university settings. Everyone in areas of high transmission, and we are in a county that is considered high transmission right now, should wear a mask when in close contact with others in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.”
Farr then addressed the issue of adolescents and their vaccination status.
“Data from a new CDC report shows that the hospitalization rate among unvaccinated adolescents, those that are aged 12 to 17 years old, was 10 times higher than among fully vaccinated adolescents,” she said. “The report also found that hospitalization rates among children ages zero to four showed a 10 times increase from late June to mid August. The CDC recommends that adults adolescents get vaccinated as soon as they can and that everyone aged two and older wear a mask in public indoor spaces in areas of substantial or high transmission and in schools and in childcare centers.”
Farr also commented on a new strain of COVID called the ‘Mu Variant’.
“It has been predominantly seen in South America where it's becoming the dominant strain,” she said. “According to the World Health Organization, there are ongoing studies to determine its properties including how transmissible it is and if it's resistant to vaccine antibodies or not. These studies are ongoing and there's currently no real data on this yet, but vaccine producers are confident that their products will continue to be effective against this new strain of Coronavirus.”
KGVO has reached out to Farr about her view on the fact that very few fans were wearing masks at the Grizzly football game, in which over 24,000 fans were in such close contact.
Farr responded with this text on Sunday afternoon.:
‘I did not see the game, but I’m not surprised that hardly anyone was masked. I am very concerned about some of the large events that are happening in and around Missoula, and especially those that bring people here from other areas with a lack of mitigation. I expect that this is going to cause our numbers to continue to climb.'
View the entire update by Cindy Farr here.
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