In an astounding move that far surpasses the COVID-19 hysterics of most major cities and virus hotspots, tiny Dawson County in Eastern Montana (population 8,680) will be throwing citizens in jail for not abiding by mask mandates (at least if the health board and county attorney have their way). With only four people per square mile, the small county is already socially distanced by geography and there are only four active cases of Coronavirus in the jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the Dawson County Health Department says on its website that the local hospital is very prepared to deal with the virus, which is nowhere close to being overwhelmed by the mild respiratory infection.
The local newspaper, the Ranger Review, posted the decision of the unelected health board, which is comprised primarily of those without medical experience or training (see below).
According to the newspaper, the health board decision was agreed upon when the members posed to themselves a question; could they surpass the governor’s orders even after the county’s COVID-19 case-count drops to zero? Governor Bullock’s executive order requires masks in Montana counties with four or more active cases, and Dawson County’s count will like fall in recent days. Instead of rolling back their mask mandate, the Dawson County Health Board rolled it forward.
In a move that can best be described as draconian, the local county attorney, Brett Irigoin, suggested that the board mandate a full day in jail or a $500 fine for offenders. The mayor for Glendive, the main community inside Dawson County, said that additional policies that surpass the standards of Governor Bullock, were a great idea.
Mayor Jerry Jimison said, “I think it’s a great idea. We have to send a consistent message and the latest data on the spread is, face coverings do slow it down and it’s all about safety.”
Apparently, being “all about safety” precludes any forethought or afterthought in regards to liberty or bodily autonomy. The move by the health board even surpasses Montana’s liberal hub cities like Missoula, Bozeman, and Kalispell.
Jimison added that demanding businesses to enforce the mask mandate (something Bullock explicitly said would not be their responsibility) would be “a small price to pay to remain open.”
Violating your customer’s liberties is now the price of doing business in Glendive, Montana.
It is unclear at this time, from press reports, if the Dawson County Sheriff will enforce their edict, but the county attorney (Irigoin) appears ready to prosecute it.
Dawson County health board members include Jill Domek, Stephen Schreibeis, Justin Cross, Brett Irigoin, Cindy Heidt, Jerry Jimison, Dennis Zander, and Joseph Leal (who is the only physician on the board). Board members are appointed by the county commissioners in a process explained in this post from the Montana Daily Gazette and are not directly accountable to the people of Dawson County.
Please say no to incarceration without representation by calling members of the Dawson County Health Board, listed above. Additionally, citizens may reach the Dawson County Sheriff, Ross Canen, at (406) 377-5291 and ask him to not enforce unconstitutional orders.