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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Missoula Health Board Challenges State Law That Contradicts CDC Guidelines


In the spring, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a law that prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status – the only such law in the country. But the law contradicts CDC guidelines, and now a local health board is testing its legality.

The Missoula City-County Board of Health unanimously voted to continue to follow a CDC guidance that has different COVID-19 quarantine recommendations for the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated.

For example, the federal agency recommends that the unvaccinated quarantine after a close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. But it says that's unnecessary for the fully vaccinated, unless they are showing symptoms. It also recommends fully vaccinated people get tested three to five days after their exposure, and to mask up for 14 days after the exposure, or until they receive a negative test result.

During Tuesday's meeting, board chairman Ross Miller welcomed litigation

"If that means that we invite a lawsuit because of some poorly crafted legislation that thought this virus, this pandemic, was going to go away as soon as they adjourned, so be it," he said.

Like much of the Mountain West, a COVID-19 surge in Montana is straining its hospitals and healthcare workers.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.