On Friday, the Missoula City County Health Department sent a letter to Ginger Claussen, President of Missoula Maverick’s American Legion Baseball, ordering her to cancel the Maverick’s baseball tournament scheduled for this weekend.

Director of Environmental Health Shannon Therriault explained what led to the letter and the tournament cancellation.

“We got a complaint on Thursday morning that the Maverick’s were holding a tournament, so we contact the president of the Maverick’s that morning and asked her to send us that plan of how they were going to run the tournament,” said Therriault. “We reviewed it and had a conversation over the phone with her, and there was just a real basic issue with it.”

After explaining the concept of social distancing with groups of 50 or more, Therriault said in order to maintain safe distancing, a balance must be maintained.

“It’s a balance,” she said. “Where that balance falls with sports is that it’s OK for two teams to get together to play as long as you’re keeping the number of people who will be in close contact with other, which means closer than six feet, to 50 or fewer. However, tournament play just isn’t a possibility, at least how tournaments are traditionally held.”

Therriault said communication broke down when the Maverick tournament organizers failed to get back to the health department.

“They were to call us back late Thursday afternoon,” she said. “We didn’t hear from them on Thursday afternoon. Alysha Johnson, our Environmental Health Specialist who is in charge of reviewing our event plans sent an email to them that afternoon and again the next morning. When we hadn’t heard from them and we knew the event was going on, we had to figure out what our next step was. Before noon we sent an email to the Mavericks that said the order (to cancel the tournament) was coming, and then a little after 4:15 that afternoon, we sent the order to them.”

Therriault said that once the order was received, the Maverick’s then officially cancelled the tournament.

She said there were more tools that were available to the health department had the Mavericks chosen to ignore the order, including involving the Missoula County Attorney’s office or the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

One more tool she mentioned did not have to come into play, thanks to the Mavericks cooperation.

“In this particular case there was another piece to the puzzle that encouraged them to comply, and that is the Mavericks have a lease on county property,” she said. “Certainly, the county has an expectation, and it’s right in the lease, that you have to comply with the rules and ordinances, and that extends to the Health Officer orders.”

KGVO reached out to the Missoula Mavericks organization, and we will add their comments to this story if and when we receive them.

KGVO has linked the Missoula Mavericks Facebook page here.

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