KGVO News spoke to Missoula City County Health Department COVID Incident Commander Cindy Farr for the first time in several weeks on Thursday for a wide ranging update.

Farr began with current Missoula vaccination numbers.

“First we can talk about vaccination and where we're at,” Farr began. “We know that to get herd immunity, we need to have about 75 percent to 85 percent of the entire population fully vaccinated. Right now we've got 63.2 percent of our total population fully vaccinated. So that is definitely a long way from being at a point where we've reached herd immunity.”

Farr said it’s important that the at home test kits to be allowed to freeze.

“If you ordered those and they're getting delivered to your house, you want to keep a really close eye on your mail because there's only a very small amount of fluid in those at home test kits and it takes nothing for them to freeze,” she said. “You want to make sure that you bring it in right away and keep it at room temperature, or at least bring it in as soon as possible. But if it freezes, then it's not going to give you valid results.

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Farr said numbers are dropping, but there are mitigating circumstances.

“We're seeing our numbers dropping,” she said. “Part of that could be due to the fact that people are doing the at home test kits, and we're not actually getting those all reported to us. We do ask that people report the results to us, not because we want to bug you or make you go into isolation or quarantine, we're going to talk to you about that and about protecting others from catching your illness, but really, it's simply so that we can keep our finger on the pulse of how much COVID we actually have in our community.”

Farr said in order for all the COVID restrictions to go away, several things have to happen.

“Once it becomes more stable, and we don't have to worry about it changing into another variant that is going to be even more severe or cause more illness and death,” she said. “If it just becomes a variant that is not changing anymore, and it remains like having a cold, then we would at that point consider it to be an endemic virus instead of a pandemic virus. Eventually, what we hope is that this is going to become kind of like the flu where it changes a little bit, but it doesn't really change significantly enough every year to change the severity of the symptoms, and therefore there would just be a  vaccine for it that you get every year to help to protect you and that's what we want for COVID.”

Farr said the at-home test kits do provide accurate results, and the health department asks anyone with a positive test to call 258-INFO.

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

 

Here are some tips for self-care during the pandemic:

 

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