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Health officials recommend following CDC guidance for quarantining

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | September 7, 2021 7:00 AM

Lincoln County Health Department officials still recommend that residents exposed to the coronavirus follow quarantine guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

House Bill 702, a new state law designed to prevent discrimination based on vaccine status, blocks local public health officials from taking into account a person’s vaccination history when issuing quarantine orders. But updated guidelines from the CDC say that fully vaccinated individuals need not quarantine while unvaccinated individuals should isolate for up to 10 days.

To resolve the conundrum, Jennifer McCully, public health manager, said that rather than issue an order, the county health department would provide a notice detailing CDC recommendations to people who were exposed to the virus.

The quarantine instructions direct those exposed to the virus at least two weeks after they have completed a full course of vaccination to wear a mask in public for 14 days after their last day of exposure. Vaccinated individuals should also get tested three to five days after exposure to the virus.

Unvaccinated individuals should quarantine for 10 days or seven days if they receive a negative test result between five and seven days after their last exposure.

Other health departments throughout the state have followed a similar tack. Gallatin and Lewis and Clark counties have also dropped quarantine orders in favor of giving people the option to follow CDC guidelines, according to Montana Public Radio.

Some public health entities, including the Missoula board of health, have opted to ignore the new law and issue quarantine orders based on federal guidance.

As of Sept. 3, Lincoln County was home to 181 active cases of the coronavirus. Deaths have increased as of late, reaching 36 last week. As of Friday, 11 people were hospitalized with the virus.