Ward 4 City Councilor Jesse Ramos sent a strongly worded statement to the Missoula City County Health Department after learning that an upcoming softball tournament at the Fort Missoula complex had been denied.

Ramos emphasized the necessity for events like these to take place for the economic good of the community.

“The Missoula Softball League is not allowed to have tournaments, and they’re not even allowed to have league yet,” said Ramos. “The rest of the state has been doing this for two to three weeks already. They’re going to allow some league play starting tomorrow (Friday) but with tons of restrictions, but no tournaments.”

Ramos said the businesses in western Montana that would benefit from softball tournaments desperately need the business.

“They are suffering far more than anyone else and they could really use some tournaments and people coming in to participate,” he said. “The case count is 56 in Montana and that represents .00005 percent of the population. The measures coming out of our health department are far worse than the COVID situation right now.”

KGVO reached out to Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy for guidance on decisions involving large crowds coming into Missoula for events such as softball tournaments.

“If you have a large number of people that have mixed quite a bit,” said Leahy. “Like for several hours of several days such as when a tournament comes to town, you’re definitely going to have groups larger than 50. You can space spectators, but once you start mixing all those players, many of whom may be from out of town, and you just look at a normal ball tournament, you could be looking at 1,600 people. So, you get a case or two (of COVID) in there, how do you, within 24 hours, which is the goal, identify the people who were exposed to that case?”

Ramos, in his letter, said he would be seeking legislative relief from the current statutes that grant the kind of authority that county health officials wield in a pandemic situation.