By Pam Hanna RN
Jefferson County Public Health Supervisor 

Jefferson County Issues Mask Mandate

 

February 17, 2021



As you know, on February 12, 2021, the statewide mask mandate expired. Masks have been proven to reduce the incidence of disease, protect others and ourselves from COVID-19. "Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them" CDC.

Masking is an important non-pharmaceutical intervention we need to adhere to as we work to distribute vaccine. Jefferson County has just begun its vaccination efforts. We are weeks away from having our vulnerable population vaccinated. Masking, distancing, hand washing and vaccination are tools we need to use to open our economy, keep our schools in-person and return to activities we enjoy. Jefferson County has done a great job of lowering the incidence of COVID-19 within our communities. I have great appreciation for all who have been dedicated to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for doing your best to keep your family, friends and neighbors safe and healthy.


Below you will find a Directive for Face Coverings in Jefferson County. This is effective today, February 19, 2021

Directive for Face Coverings in Jefferson County

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is an easily transmissible, potentially fatal respiratory illness that spreads from person to person in the air through droplets from infected individuals. It is transmissible even by asymptomatic individuals who do not know they are infected. As a result, COVID- 19 presents Jefferson County with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 endangers our vulnerable neighbors, businesses, long- term care and assisted living facilities, and hospitals that need the capacity to treat both COVID-19 patients and all others needing medical care.

To curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Jefferson County, and to protect the health and economic well-being of all residents, it is necessary to implement protective measures to reduce spread of the disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance for community mitigation intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and helps communities tailor strategies for target populations. These regulations are drafted after consultation with public health experts, healthcare providers, and emergency management professionals. The Jefferson County Health Board has determined that, in order to protect public health and human safety, it is essential to establish these restrictions in support of the Jefferson County Health Department’s mission to protect and improve the health of Jefferson County residents.


Slowing the spread of COVID-19 locally relies on the Jefferson County Health Department’s ability to contain disease through case isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine of close contacts to cases. Further, community-wide mitigation strategies are a vital complement to testing and surveillance when developing a comprehensive approach to prevention and response to a virus that causes significant morbidity and mortality.

Primary Criteria to Determine the need for protective measures

Two criteria reviewed weekly by Jefferson County Health Department staff will be:

1. Positive cases per 100,000 population – the Harvard Global Health Institute indicates health jurisdictions should strive for 25 positive cases per 100,000, or lower:

2. Completion of Phase 1 C vaccinations in the county.

Rules and Regulations

I. Definitions

As used in these Rules and Regulations, the following terms have the following meanings:

o “Business” means any for-profit or non-profit entity that has employees or volunteers. The term “business” includes, but is not limited to, retail stores, grocery stores, food and beverage establishments, public lodging, personal care providers, medical providers, pharmacies, gyms, pools, fitness services, museums and theaters, indoor recreational or entertainment facilities, gas stations, repair and service providers, non-profit organizations, realty services, legal services, transportation services, and ride-sharing services.


o “Capacity” means the number of people allowed in a building as determined by the fire marshal.

o “Event” and “gathering” means planned or spontaneous groupings of people, indoors or outdoors, with people participating or in attendance. This includes, but is not limited to, a community event or gathering, government event or gathering, concert, festival, conference, parade, wedding, or sporting event.

o “Government office” means any office or assembly of any branch, department, agency or political subdivision of the State of Montana.

o “Face covering” means a fabric, paper or disposable face covering with multiple layers that covers the nose and mouth and which does not have an exhaling valve.

o “Indoor space open to the public” means any indoor space, whether publicly or privately owned, where the public has access by right or invitation expressed or implied, whether by payment of money or not. In addition, “indoor spaces open to the public” include, but are not limited to, lobbies, common areas, elevators, bathrooms, meeting rooms, or other spaces where people gather. The term includes all modes of public or commercial transportation. The term does not include private residences unopen to the public.

o “Organized outdoor activity” means any gathering of 25 or more people for an activity or event organized or sponsored by a business or person, or that takes place on the property of a business or person. This includes, but is not limited to, outdoor theatrical or music performances, fairs, markets, festivals, parades, carnivals, rodeos, sporting or athletic events, beer gardens, weddings and receptions, or parties.

o “Reasonable measures” means actions that are reasonable under the circumstances to promote the objective of the face covering requirement.

o “Schools” means any public or private K-12 school.

o “Sponsor” means any business or person who organizes or sponsors an organized outdoor activity, or who allows the activity to take place on their property.

II. Face Covering Requirement

A. Face Covering Requirement in Indoor Spaces Open to the Public

i. Except as provided in Section C of the Face Covering Requirement, all businesses, government offices, schools or other indoor spaces open to the public shall require and take reasonable measures to ensure that all employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, staff, students, or other member of the public wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times while entering or remaining in any indoor spaces open to the public.

a. Face coverings shall be provided for all employees and volunteers.

b. All points of entry open to the public shall have a clearly visible sign posted stating: “Mask or face covering use required for ages five and older” or similar directive language.

B. Face Covering Requirements for Certain Organized Outdoor Activities

i. Except as provided in Section C of the Face Covering Requirement, for any organized outdoor activities where social distancing is not possible or is not observed, sponsors shall require and take reasonable measures to ensure that all people attending an organized outdoor activity wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times.

ii. This section applies only where the nature of the organized outdoor activity makes it impractical for all attendees to maintain at least six feet of physical distance from each other, or any organized outdoor activity where attendees are not observing at least six feet of physical distance from each other.

C. Exceptions

i. Businesses, government offices, other indoor space open to the public, and organized outdoor activities are not required to ensure the following individuals wear face coverings:

a. Children under the age of five. All children between the ages of two and four, however, are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in accordance with the provisions of these Rules and Regulations. Children under the age of two should not wear a face covering.


b. People consuming food or drinks in an establishment that offers food or drinks.

c. People engaged in an activity that makes wearing a face covering impractical or unsafe, such as strenuous physical exercise or swimming. However, spectators observing an outdoor activity, where a separation from the activity of at least six feet is maintained, are considered a separate outdoor activity subject to these Rules and Regulations.

d. People seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired.

e. People giving a speech or engaging in an artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical performance for an audience, provided the audience is separated from performers by at least six feet of distance.

f. People temporarily removing their face covering for identification

purposes.

g. People required to remove coverings for the purpose of receiving

medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment.

ii. Businesses, government offices, indoor spaces open to the public, and organized outdoor activities should afford accommodations from the provisions of these Rules and Regulations to those who are entitled an accommodation under federal and state disability protection laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Montana Human Rights Act, labor laws, or any other applicable law requiring accommodations in public accommodations. This could involve serving those requesting accommodations, curb-side or via delivery.

iii. Only those employees, volunteers and contractors in public-facing workspaces are required to wear face coverings as specified in these Rules and Regulations.

Duration

The Health Board shall review these Rules and Regulations at each regularly scheduled meeting of the Health Board. Jefferson County Health Department staff will review on a weekly basis, particularly the primary criteria, and will notify immediately the Health Board regarding changes in metric performance. These Rules and Regulations shall remain in effect until removed by the Health Board.

Authority

The adoption and enforcement of these Rules and Regulations are authorized by MCA 50-2-101 through 50-2-130, Administrative Rules of Montana Chapter 114 “Communicable Disease Control” of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and all other applicable provisions of state and federal law.

Signed by Christina Binkowski, Chair, Jefferson County Health Board on 2/19/2021

Signed by Sandy Sacry, Health Officer, Jefferson County on 2/19/2021

 

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