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State Health Department Receives 1,300 COVID-19 Complaints

A PCR testing station at Montana State University
Rachel Cramer
Yellowstone Public Radio
A PCR testing station at Montana State University

Montanans have submitted more than 1,300 concerns to the state health department about COVID-19 related issues at businesses since a complaint form went live Oct. 22.

Jim Murphy, the state’s communicable disease and laboratory services division administrator, Tuesday said most of the concerns have been about masking, physical distancing and disinfecting. He said at least one issue has been submitted about businesses in 40 of Montana’s 56 counties.

“Most of the comments were very constructive and they were basically expressing concern about their own health, health of the customers, health of the workers and their own coworkers,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the state health department reviews the concerns and then forwards them to the appropriate county's lead sanitarian to decide if any follow up is needed. Murphy said in most cases that would be outreach and education to help the business owner understand how to comply with local and state health orders, which are intended to slow the spread of the virus.

“Many of our COVID clusters in Montana are directly related to work places. These are clusters among coworkers but we’ve also had some customers that have become cases as well. Following the directives is going to be essential to help minimize transmission in these settings, especially as our numbers increase in Montana,” Murphy said.

On Oct. 27, Montana reported more than 10,000 active cases in the state for the first time.

Also on Oct. 27, Governor Steve Bullock said of the $1.25 billion sent to the state through the CARES Act, over 60 percent has been distributed. CARES Act funds must be used by Dec. 30 unless U.S. Congress extends the deadline.