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Ravalli County health officer resigns in dispute over mask enforcement

Posted at 1:53 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 16:33:45-04

HAMILTON — Ravalli County Health Officer Dr. Carol Calderwood is resigning her position, disagreeing with the county's elected officials decision to not enforce Governor Bullock's mandate that masks to be worn in public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, after Gov. Bullock issued his directive for people to wear masks when entering stores and businesses, Ravalli County commissioners and Sheriff Steve Holton issued a statement saying it was up to private business owners to decide how to follow the rules.

The Sheriff's Office said it wouldn't be issuing any criminal citations, although deputies would enforce complaints of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

But Dr. Calderwood, who has been Ravalli County's health officer for the past 13 years, didn't support that position and submitted her resignation letter over the weekend.

Calderwood says she had been placed into "another no-win situation" by elected officials' decision to "disobey the Governor's directive without my input." She said masks are "easy to use, safe, cheap" and an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Calderwood said she had hoped to stay with the country through the pandemic, that she's "reluctant to quit" because of her "loyalty" to the county's residents and public health nurses.

The doctor did offer to continue to help in an advisory role if needed. The county's Board of Health will discuss her resignation when they meet next week.