WHITEFISH — Community leaders in Whitefish have come together to create a COVID task force promoting social distancing and masks wearing messaging for all Whitefish residents.
The Whitefish COVID Task Force was formed in late October when community leaders came up with an idea to give local businesses and visitors a clear and consistent message on COVID-19 safety.
With the holiday season among us, Whitefish City Manager Dana Smith says following these messages could help save lives over the next few weeks.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t burden our hospitals and if we see a lot of gathering over the next two weeks my concern is that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” Smith said.
Smith noted the task force has created online videos promoting social distancing and proper mask usage as well as banners hanging from downtown streetlights.
Smith says the best way to keep businesses safe and open is to follow simple COVID-19 safety measures.
“As we finish off these last six months -- or whatever the time frame may be -- that we finish it off strong and our businesses get to stay open, that hopefully capacity limits can be increased and that we don’t see lost businesses, lost wages for a lot of our community members,” Smith said.
Montana Bear Property Owner and COVID Task Force member Gail Goodwin says she joined the group to help business owners and employees promote a powerful message of safety and unity for Whitefish citizens.
Goodwin says the actions of community members not following COVID-19 protocols could lead to another shutdown which would be devastating to the Whitefish economy
“And if we don’t wear our masks, if we don’t socially distance and physically distance from one another, then we’re going to have the inevitable of another shutdown and none of us want that,” Goodwin told MTN News.
As the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Flathead County last week, Smith is urging Whitefish residents not to let their guard down.
“While the vaccine is here, and that’s exciting and it’s a light at the end of this really dark tunnel that we’ve all been living through. It’s important that as we gather through the holidays, we think about what impact that may have.”
The task force will continue to promote social distancing and masks wearing messages for the months to come. Members of the Whitefish COVID Task Force include business owners, doctors, school district officials and citizens.