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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Dispute Continues Over Controversial Flathead Doctor's Health Board Position

A member of the Flathead City-County Board of Health has resigned over a controversial Kalispell physician remaining on the board. The resignation follows similar calls for Dr. Annie Bukacek’s removal.

Former Columbia Falls Superintendent Michael Nicosia resigned from the board last month over Flathead County commissioners’ refusal to remove Dr. Annie Bukacek.

In an email to Flathead County’s three commissioners, Nicosia says Bukacek is using her position on the county health board to give legitimacy to dangerous views during the coronavirus pandemic and he says he could not in good conscience continue serving on the board if she was not removed. This follows calls from the Whitefish City Council and mayor as well as county residents also asking for Bukacek’s removal.

Drawing much of the controversy is a video of Bukacek addressing a local church earlier this spring in which she claims the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is artificially spiking COVID-19 death numbers. That stance has widely been disputed by public health officials and experts.

Bukacek has also organized and supported protests resisting social distancing directives from Gov. Steve Bullock and local public health officials. It’s not the first time Bukacek has drawn controversy. Her well-known anti-vaccination views raised eyebrows when she was initially appointed to the board by Flathead commissioners.

Two out of three commissioners are needed in order to remove Bukacek. So far, only Commissioner Philip Mitchel has expressed interest in doing so.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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