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Two Rural Health Officials Announce Resignations Over Local COVID-19 Response

A graphic of two masks with the text "Facial coverings are now mandatory in MT counties with four or more active COVID-19 cases. #MaskUpMT."
Montana Department of Emergency Services
Gov. Steve Bullock's July 15 directive mandated masks in some Montana counties. The directive will end with the governor's declared state of emergency.

Over the past month, health officers in two rural Montana counties have resigned over disagreements with county officials and residents over local coronavirus response plans.

Ravalli County Health Officer Dr. Carol Calderwood gave her resignation letter to county commissioners this weekend, over what she called “locally elected officials’ decision to disobey the Governor’s Directives without my input.”

Last week, Gov. Steve Bullock announced a mask mandate for counties with four or more active cases of COVID-19. That includes Ravalli County.

Following the governor’s directive, the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office and Ravalli County commissioners released a joint press release saying that “Private Business owners may choose to enforce the Governor’s Directive.”

The Ravalli County Health Board has not yet accepted Calderwood’s resignation.

In Powell County, Dr. Lori Drumm announced she would be leaving her position as health officer Aug. 1.

According to her resignation letter, a group of local residents came to the Deer Lodge Medical Center where she practices family medicine. They proceeded to endanger patients and block them from entering the facility.

The residents were upset over her cancellation of the Tri-County Fair, Drumm told the Missoulian, an action her office took to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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