Board of Health talks businesses reopening, requires masks at courthouse

PHILIPSBURG – The Granite County Board of Health discussed the preparations for businesses to reopen within the county, as well as setting new guidelines for those visiting and working at the courthouse.

Mark Ransford, chairman of the Granite County Board of Health (GCBH) led an active virtual meeting Tuesday morning that saw his committee and the county discuss a number of items relating to businesses and the general safety of area residents.

Perhaps the most spirited discussion took place when the topic of business at the Granite County Courthouse was broached. During the discussion Ransford suggested that all workers and visitors to the public facility be required to wear masks. Commissioners Scott Adler and Chuck Hinkle did express concern over the measure, with Hinkle stating, “I just don’t see how we can do it.”

“I know it’s uncomfortable Commissioner Hinkle,” said Drummond Mayor Gail Leeper, “but it’s the new normal.”

Hinkle and Adler both voted in favor of the measure as it passed the Health Board unanimously.

Ransford started the meeting by confirming that Granite County was still free of any positive cases in the county with 21 tests having been completed, none pending and no one under quarantine. He also stated that the 14-day quarantine for out of state visitors would remain in effect.

“As other counties open up, we don’t want to become a magnet for out of state visitors,” he said.

Both Drummond and Philipsburg are preparing for the Phase 1 reopening of businesses, circulating a set of guidelines developed by Chad Lanes, Sanitarian with Anaconda Deer-Lodge County. The data sheet provides owners and workers with guidelines and procedures that should be used as they begin having sit-down patrons visit their establishments again.

That document reads as follows:

Both cities will soon have supplies available for business owners as they begin expanding services.

It was also noted that Philipsburg Schools has voted to keep classes closed the remainder of the academic year. Drummond Schools will meet this week to make a decision on that matter as well.

A countywide Day of Prayer is scheduled for May 7 at the courthouse and was also discussed at the meeting. Ransford noted that he had discussed social distancing and attendance limits with event organizer Crystal Langton.

Local parks are open, however playgrounds remain closed.

Leeper told the board that campers had gotten into the Drummond Campground, taking down a warning sign and somehow connecting to power. She asked about the campground reopening and Ransford suggested they do so without allowing the water and power hookups, again to deter out of state campers from using the facility. Leeper said she would have the Drummond Town Council consider the matter.

It was noted that Granite County just received 500 test swabs for COVID-19, which is a large number per capita.

Maria Stoppler, CEO of the Granite County Medical Center, wanted to make sure that residents knew that the hospital was open and ready to start scheduling wellness visits again. She noted that a concern had been raised by residents that their needs were not being met by the hospital, but that their services are available for use.

“We’re open for business as usual,” said Stoppler. “We are giving masks to everyone entering the building and taking all of the necessary precautions to make sure that our patients and staff are safe."

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