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Montana VA introduces new COVID-19 precautions

A KN95 mask and a surgical mask.
Photo illustration by Max Posner/NPR
A KN95 mask and a surgical mask.

The Veterans Health Administration introduced COVID-19 precaution levels to facilities nationwide Tuesday, including in Montana.

The low, medium and high grades of protection are similar to the model the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to issue community guidance.

All facilities require visitors to wear masks inside, but facilities at higher levels of precautions will require more physical distancing and screening measures. The VA says clinics in Bozeman and Butte are currently at a medium level and others statewide are at low.

Associate Chief of Staff of Primary Care, Dr. Erik Vilen, said the Montana VA will evaluate clinic levels on a weekly basis.

“How we determine those is based on the new cases per hundred thousand people in the past seven days and/or the percentage of positive COVID tests in the past seven days,” said Vilen.

New cases of COVID-19 have increased in Montana over the last few weeks. The state reported Friday that it tracked a little over 1,000 new positive cases that week, up roughly 200 cases from what was reported the week before and more than 400 higher than two weeks earlier.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.