Ravalli County Public Health officials are clarifying their position on public gatherings. Recently, some organizations have said the health officials had "approved" their community events. Dr. Carol Calderwood that's not the case. She emphasized that, yes, the Public Health nurses are reviewing event plans and making recommendations about best practices for health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they are not approving or denying the event. Instead, the responsibility of maintaining safety is the responsibility of the organization sponsoring the event. And with active COVID-19 cases doubling in the last two weeks in Ravalli County, she noted more caution is needed for any size gathering.

The official position from Ravalli County Public Health:
"Public Health is happy to look at those plans to help assess the likelihood they will comply with the Governor's directives. We will not give approval, nor is consent required for event holders to move ahead.
But the responsibility for compliance is completely on the shoulders of the event holders.
Please keep in mind that Public Health and the local medical community are already stretched quite thin with school starting and the flu season returning. Again, we are happy to consult on plans to move forward, but the health officer's input at this point is that maintenance of directives and safe practices for events with groups larger than 50 people during this pandemic would be very difficult."

Officials said large gatherings (over 50 people) are great for community mental health, but often allow times where people relax their vigilance against spread of the coronavirus. Statewide, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services recently have had record reports of positive COVID-19 infections - often over 300 new cases daily.

If you have any questions about COVID-19, call (406) 375-6672.