Ravalli County leaders acknowledge it's still early in the coronavirus pandemic but they say the response of Bitterroot residents is encouraging, as they urge everyone in the valley to keep taking precautions seriously.
While Ravalli County is on the low end of Montana cases, it seems more and more people are following the guidelines to stay safe in the Bitterroot.
In advance of Governo Steve Bullock’s "stay at home" directive, a few businesses were still open, but many had already closed their doors with a lot less traffic. Some are even taking advantage of the closures to get special projects done.
Ravalli County Incident Commander and Health Officer Dr. Carol Calderwood says guidelines like social distancing are critical at this stage of the pandemic, helping to "flatten the curve.”
"If we do small things like regulations in government to try and get people to comply better with things like physical distancing, we may help to slightly taper off what it would have been,” she explained.
"It's an unprecedented time. But I do believe that we have a good plan. And we've got some super-smart good people here in the county working on it," Calderwood added.
Ravalli County has an emergency operations center, a COVID-19 hotline for people's questions (375-6650) and are planning with a team representing all areas, from county operations, business impacts and of course health care.
Calderwood wants people who've traveled internationally to call and report their trip details. But above all, wash your hands and give others their healthy space.
While it might be tempting to get outside and get a little fresh air, especially now with the shelter in place order, the county says that's fine, as long as you take the proper precautions, especially with kids.
"Even outdoors. Even kids at play. Which is really hard. But they should, as much as possible, try to maintain, play games that don't require being so close physically,” Calderwood said referring to social distancing.
"At this time, we can't be selfish. We have to stop the spread before we even know it's been spread and bringing it back to others that might be more susceptible,” she concluded.