Missoula Health Department to End COVID-19 Testing Services

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The Missoula City-County Health Department issued a news release Thursday announcing that it would end its COVID-19 testing services at the Health Department’s main office in West Alder.

Hayley Devlin, Public Information Officer, provides details.

“We will be slowing services down slowly over the next month, then we will be shutting down our testing services in May,” Devlin said. “This decision came as we saw a drop in demand for testing and we saw that many pharmacies and walk-in clinics are still offering testing and residents still have the option of getting free tests from the federal government shipped to their homes. we decided now would be a good time to withdraw from testing services.

Devlin said that even though the number of vaccines is also decreasing, vaccinations are still important for certain groups.

“Some people have come in for their second booster dose at our Alder Street location and we will still be providing COVID vaccines there,” she said. “There are still no plans to change that; however, I will say that I still want to spread the word. Many people still don’t know that second boosters are now available for people aged 50 and over. People who have had two injections of Johnson and Johnson are now eligible to receive a booster of an mRNA vaccine, and then anyone 12 and older who is moderately severely immunocompromised is also eligible for a second booster.

Devlin said the number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop in Missoula County.

“We’re still doing great,” she said. “We haven’t seen any new spikes or anything. Our daily average of new cases per 100,000 people over the past week is just six, so cases remain quite low. We only have 40 active cases in the county and we are happy to see that. To date, we have only two Missoula County residents hospitalized.

Devlin said the new Omicron variant hasn’t been a problem in Montana.

“BAQ is the newly discovered sub-variant of Omicron that is even more contagious than the original Omicron strain,” she said. “In January and February we had a big spike in cases in Montana because of the Omicron variant, and then that variant mutated again. So in some regions they had the sub-variant which caused very big spikes in Hong Kong and Europe. But so far in America, we don’t really see the effects of this sub-variant.

Devlin said any announcement of when COVID-19 will be declared endemic instead of a pandemic will have to come from the federal government.

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