Health Director Blames ‘Anti-Health Legislators’ for COVID Rise
In an hour-long press conference held via Microsoft Teams on Friday, a host of community leaders and medical professionals literally pleaded with Missoula and Missoula County residents, especially those between the ages of 20 and 29, to get vaccinated against COVID 19.
Missoula City County Health Officer D’Shane Barnett said new records are being set for COVID infections.
“The number of hospitalizations has now surpassed our record since the beginning of COVID,” said Barnett. As our average daily incidence rates, both of those numbers are higher and are continuously now rivaling what we saw from last November during the spike.”
Barnett then lashed out at state legislators that he says are responsible for exacerbating the pandemic’s effects across the state.
“Now is the time when we would have mandates in place for things like mask requirements and limiting event size,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have anti health state legislators who went out of their way to make that not possible. So I know that a lot of folks are really frustrated that the health officer is not putting in a mask requirement and not limiting event sizes. And unfortunately, a lot of actions to mitigate COVID-19 have been taken out of our hands here in Missoula.”
CEO of Missoula’s Providence St. Patrick Hospital Joyce Dombrouski said healthcare facilities are taxed to the limit with COVID cases that are primarily unvaccinated.
“As of this morning at St. Pat's, we have 30 in-patients who have COVID,” said Dombrouski. “Four of those are on a ventilator and of those 30, 23 are unvaccinated. The age of our patients in fact is lower as this chain has already pointed out. Individuals are sick. Our Emergency Department is absolutely overwhelmed. I think everyone has seen that ambulance bay. And then we had a physician leader in the ER go on social media in midweek this week to really make the same plea.”
Director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management Adriane Beck said that over 20 National Guard personnel will be assigned to help out in Missoula
“We did put a request in this morning for 24 National Guard resources deployed to Missoula County,” said Beck. “The needs are obviously with the hospitals. As you've heard, they have staffing shortages that Guard resources can be deployed for, but we also expect to have needs within our isolation and quarantine facility at the Sleepy Inn, as we expect to see an increased capacity there.”
Barnett said health officials are doing everything possible to reach the 20-29 year-old population, even using Tik Tok and other social media outlets.
“To reach that younger population we’re pulling the medical experts, the infectious disease Doc's and getting them and the ER nurses and getting them to really share the situation we’re in, and the fact that vaccines are effective, and the fact that we don't have to be in the position that we're in.”