COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr addressed the issue of the city’s plan to purchase the Sleepy Inn motel to be used to house COVID-19 patients.

“I don’t think people understand the need for this facility or the approach taken by our department and our partners,” Farr said. “We really need a place where we can quarantine and isolate people who do not have a suitable way to do so in a home setting. We need a way to support those affect by illness and provide a space for those being monitored for COVID-19 to prevent addition community spread and the impacts of the health to our community.”

Farr maintains that the building will not be a medical facility.

“This is not going to be a medical facility, it would be more of a community resource,” Farr said. “Our incident command team worked with the city and our community partners to make this happen. We also worked with emergency management experts to get approval from FEMA to use the Sleepy Inn as an emergency non-congregate shelter. This allows the feds to cover 75% of the costs to operate, clean, and maintain the facility. We anticipate the other emergency funding sources will cover the additional 25% that is not covered by FEMA.”

Farr said the widely publicized health department report on the property has been highly misconstrued.

“The items in that email will be addressed before anyone is ever going to be sheltered there,” Farr said. “Using that message as a reason not to use this facility is a misrepresentation of the intent of the visit and it really fails to recognize that to protect the health of our community, we need a safe place where we can quarantine and isolate people. That is what this facility would be used for.”

The Missoula City Council will vote on the purchase at their virtual meeting tonight.