Flathead Health Officer to Ask Commissioners for Emergency Declaration

Health officer said county has not considered forcing bars, restaurants to close

By Justin Franz
The Flathead City-County Health Department. Beacon File Photo

The public health official leading the local response to the coronavirus pandemic will ask the Flathead County Commission to declare a state of emergency this week.

Flathead City-County Public Health Officer Hillary Hanson told the three Flathead County Commissioners last week that an official emergency declaration would open up access to emergency funding to handle the outbreak. On Monday, Hanson said that the formal request for a declaration would come sometime this week.

Hanson was designated local incident commander for the coronavirus outbreak last week. On Tuesday, the incident command will set up shop at the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services where public health nurses will be available to answer questions from the public. Hanson said the health department has been handling an increase in calls and is doing everything it can to answer people’s questions as quickly as possible.

If people want more information about the impacts of coronavirus in Flathead County, they are encouraged to call a newly established information line at (406) 751-8188 or visit https://flatheadhealth.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/.

While a number of counties across Montana have decided to close or limit what services bars and restaurants can offer, including Missoula and Gallatin counties, Hanson said Flathead County is not considering that at this time. However, she encouraged people to practice social distancing. Instead of going out to eat, people should order delivery or pickup take out.

“We want people to support local businesses, but do it in a way that supports social distancing,” she said.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people not gather in groups larger than 10 in the coming weeks.

Hanson encouraged people to continue to wash their hands, avoid gathering in large groups and stay at home if you’re sick.

“I cannot stress that last one enough,” she said.

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