MISSOULA, Mont. - After crowded celebrations and airports with holiday travel, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in Missoula County.
As people return back to school and work, the Missoula City-County Health Department is providing guidance on how to help stop the spread amid the highly transmissible omicron variant.
D'Shane Barnett, MCCHD's health director, encourages people to self-quarantine as much as possible for a couple of days after returning home.
He advises them to pay close attention to how they're feeling and be aware of any developing symptoms. If they develop any, even if a person thinks it's just a cold or flu, get tested immediately, he emphasized.
"I grew up with the idea that, even if you're sick, you get up and go to work because that's work ethic, that's gumption," Barnett said. "It feels strange to now move into the opposite situation where if you don't feel well, stay home, stay home and get tested, that will help us contain the virus."
Barnett said testing appointments are booking up and the health department is seeing more positive cases, but people should be able to get tested within a day.
For people who do test positive, Barnett encourages them to quarantine even within their home to avoid getting others in the household sick.
Missoula City-County Health Department follows guidance from the CDC, so isolation lasts for five days or until fever resolves.
As for the omicron variant, Barnett reported preliminary data shows the strain's not creating as severe of a reaction, but it's a lot more transmissible. He said they're seeing a rise in pediatric cases as that age group is the least vaccinated.