The Ekalaka Eagle - Your Community Builder

COVID-19 threat has local impacts

 

March 20, 2020

A sign posted on the door of Dahl Memorial Healthcare in Ekalaka reads: "ATTENTION ALL VISITORS AND POTENTIAL PATIENTS. TO PROTECT OUR STAFF AND RESIDENTS, WE ARE SCREENING ALL PERSONS PRIOR TO ENTRANCE."

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world and country, the threat of the virus has made significant local impacts.

Last Thursday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency. On Friday night the Montana High School Association (MHSA) announced that the remainder of all state basketball tournaments would be canceled, ending the Carter County High School Lady Bulldogs' season after a semi-final loss at the Class C Tournament in Missoula where several fans were attending. On Sunday, Governor Bullock directed all public K-12 schools in Montana to close for two weeks. These statewide moves were only the beginning of changes that have been felt locally.

With the school closure comes the cancellation or postponement of all school activities and gatherings at both school facilities in Ekalaka. The gym at Ekalaka Elementary is closed. The cornhole tournament scheduled by the local National Honor Society has been postponed. The state FFA Convention has been postponed until further notice.

All spring sports in Montana have been suspended by MHSA. The MHSA board will revisit the decision on April 13.

In regular session on Monday, Carter County Commissioners passed a resolution and entered a state of emergency in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Following recommendation from Dale Diede, PA-C, the commission also ordered all county public offices to close for a two week period.

"Essential services will continue as normal. Phone calls during regular hours to the Sheriff, Clerk and Recorder, Treasurer, Clerk of District Court/Superintendent of Schools and Justice of the Peace will be answered and arrangements will be made to assist in regard the needs of the public," a statement from the county said. In the case of a snowstorm, the road/bridge department will respond and the airport will still be plowed by the county.

The Senior Center is also closed for the rest of the month. Senior Citizen Coordinator Tricia Lovec has made arrangements for congregate meals, normally served at the center, to be delivered. Food bank clients as well as seniors who would like to have congregate meals delivered can contact her at 406-775-8751 for more information.

Dahl Memorial Healthcare has been closed to public access. Staff members have also been asked to self-isolate. The doors at Dahl will be "locked at all times for the foreseeable future, with a sign on the door for directions," according to a release from the hospital. The hospital has also asked all individuals to call before visiting the hospital (406-775-8730), and to not visit Dahl unless they absolutely have to.

Due to recent United States Government guidelines in regard to COVID-19, the Southeast Electric office is locked. Payments can be dropped in the drop box. Please call 406-775-8762 for trouble calls or concerns.

Ekalaka town office is closed for two weeks.

Carter County Museum will also be closed for the next two weeks. All public events held by the museum are canceled until April 1, but staff at CCM hope students and parents at home will visit the museum's online exhibitions at: https://mtmemory.org/digital/custom/home/.

The Fallon/Carter County Extension office will be closed for the next two weeks and Carter County Cloverbuds will be canceled for the remainder of March. Extension agent Michael Millward is hopeful the program will resume in April.

Mid-Rivers business offices are closed to the public, but employees will remain at work to service the public through the phone, drop boxes, drive-ups and online. Service technicians will work troubles and installs on the outside of homes and deliver equipment that may need to be installed inside residences or businesses but will not be entering homes. Fiber cutovers will be suspended until further notice. In an email to customers, CEO Michael Candelaria wrote "Mid-Rivers voice and Internet capacity are continually monitored, and capacity looks good at this time. We do not currently have concerns with our capacity to meet Internet demand, as typically online education systems are not data-intensive, and we anticipate traffic spikes to be comparable to Christmas Break and other times school is out."

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is postponing all hunter and bowhunter education classes that are scheduled through March 30, at which point FWP will reassess the situation.

Branson Grocery announced that it will be implementing new, shorter hours for the next few weeks. The store will also be closed on Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and may put limits on certain items.

Governor Bullock has strongly recommended that the public limit all gatherings, especially those more than 50 people, in every community across the state. He also recommended that parents should avoid, if possible, placing children for childcare with grandparents or individuals over the age of 60 or immunocompromised individuals.

The CDC is now recommending no more than 10 people congregate in any one place.

This list of closures and cancellations, in addition to their length and other changes in schedules is fluid and may change day-to-day.

 

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