Ravalli County commissioners are asking Bitterroot residents to do "whatever they can" to keep from overwhelming public health resources with the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
Commissioners are also asking people in a new letter to be respectful of one another's viewpoints and to pull together.
“This situation has got people on edge. There's no doubt about it, and we think the most important thing is for people to respect each other’s decisions for their own health,” Commissioner Chris Hoffman said.
Ravalli County had a reduced number of positive coronavirus cases through the spring and summer but that's changed now, with dozens of new cases.
The county health department is changing procedures to catch up on contact tracing and county commissioners are encouraging people to follow precautions.
“We talk about community a lot. And I know that the public health nurse had said, and I just echo that we're not so large in Ravalli County that we're not still a small community and we need to comport ourselves that way,” Hoffman said.
That's something commissioners are appealing for, just as much as masks and hand washing -- namely, a healthy dose of choice, like frequenting businesses not following your viewpoint.
”To stay away from there. And likewise, if someone decides that for their safety and the safety of their family, they're going to wear masks, leave them alone and let ‘em wear their mask,” Hoffman told MTN News.
Most of all, don't call 9-1-1 with mask complaints; especially since the county commissioners don't have enforcement powers.
There isn't the level of enforcement that you see in Missoula County or Yellowstone County, or some of those other places,” Hoffman stated. “But if you look though, their infection rates are significantly higher than ours, per capita.”
Hoffman says commissioners just want to see everyone take personal responsibility doing everything they can to keep one another safe as we would in any community emergency.”
”We think that our community has done an excellent job. And we think that the people that are being the loudest about it on both sides of the equation aren't really looking at that -- or focusing on what's going to get us through this thing in the very end. And that is continuing to be neighbors.”