Montana law contradicts CDC coronavirus quarantine recommendations

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte speaks with the press on Feb. 10 in the State Capitol in Helena.

HELENA — A Montana law is limiting health departments’ ability to issue quarantine orders as it sees a wave of COVID-19 cases threatening the state’s health care system.

The law passed by the GOP-dominated Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte last spring bans discrimination based on people’s vaccination record, putting vaccine status alongside sex and race as a protected class in the state’s human rights law.

Local health departments in some of the most populous countries decided last week they would no longer issue quarantine orders for people who come in close contact with known positive cases of the coronavirus. 

The Centers for Disease Control recommended that vaccinated people not be required to quarantine. Facing the choice of either quarantining all close contacts or none, health officials in Lewis and Clark, Butte Silver Bow, Cascade and Gallatin counties decided they would no longer issue quarantine orders for anyone, regardless of whether they have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

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