Some individuals on the University of Montana campus who have visited certain countries and returned to campus may face quarantine, as prescribed by the Montana DPHHS and the CDC.

Communications Director Paula Short carefully explained the protocol developed by University of Montana officials as they face the COVID-19 virus on a campus that contains many international students, teachers and visitors.

“To be clear, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the UM Campus, the Missoula community or in Missoula County,” said Short. “We are following the guidance by the Centers for Disease Control about a14 day quarantine for any student or employee on campus arriving from a country that is currently under a Level III alert for coronavirus,” she said. “There are currently four such countries and they are China, South Korea, Italy and Iran.”

KGVO asked Short if there are any individuals on campus who have been placed in quarantine.

“If there is a question specific to whether we are monitoring individuals within our campus community, the answer is if we have an individual that has traveled to those countries within the last 14 days and has returned to our campus or has arrived on our campus, then we would follow the CDC guidelines for a 14 day quarantine for those individuals,” she said. “With respect to patient privacy we are not announcing monitoring activities or testing activities, with the exception, of course, if we were to get a confirmed, positive case of coronavirus.”

Short explained the protocol at UM should such a case be confirmed.

“If there were such an announcement, it would come jointly through the University of Montana, City County Health Department and other partners,” she said. “I want to emphasize that we are all working together, and the coordination among the agencies has been really great. We’ve been having these discussions for weeks in anticipation of this possibility. As we talk about those counties that are under the CDC Level III, remember there are now more than a dozen states that have had a coronavirus case, so we’re certainly not looking past students and employees traveling domestically, as well.”

Short strongly emphasized the following statement.

‘There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the campus community or in the county,” she said. “Certainly, if that changes, we will let the public know and share appropriate information that would be in the interest of public health in those cases.”

KGVO also spoke with UM History Professor Mehrdad Kia about the ramifications of an international campus with regards to the coronavirus.

“For the last 17 years we have had a major international conference on Central and Southwest Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa,” said Kia. “There were also guests coming in from many states such as California and New York. So the center decided to postpone the conference which was to be held on April 15th and 16th and will be rescheduled for late March or early April of 2021. This was first and foremost out of concern for the health and safety of the campus and the community. I believe the university administration is doing its utmost to address the situation. We have to maintain very open and transparent communication with the community. I also urge the city, county and university leadership to be just as transparent if there is a positive case of coronavirus.”