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We got this


People of the Hi-Line,

As of today, 1.3 million people around the world have contracted COVID-19. Over 73,000 of those patients lost their battle against this virus. Montana has 298 cases and 6 fatalities. Still, Hill and Liberty counties have only one confirmed case apiece. So why “Shelter in Place?” Because, to quote your parents on a long road trip, “We’re not there yet.”

COVID-19 came into our country on people who had traveled to other affected areas. Although the Centers for Disease Control does try to locate what are referred to as “Patient Zeros,” many people brought the virus here. Those people had contact with others in their homes, business places, restaurants and social gatherings. They spread the virus to others in that manner.

Looking at the figures from the COVID-19 virus from other countries and cities, the infection rates climb considerably once the virus has a foothold in the community. We call that “Community Spread.” You are infected, but you don’t know where you were exposed. In contrast, our very responsible “One Confirmed Case” has remained just one for over two weeks.

Our governor closed our schools on March 16. That was followed by closing restaurants to in-house dining and banning “non-essential social and recreational gatherings” of more than 10 people with spacing of at least 6 feet between participants. Last Friday, other non-essential businesses were asked to close. School closures were extended. We are honoring the “Shelter in Place” order in Montana.

I’m hoping you can see the connection between “Community Spread” and our staying-at-home efforts. They’re working. We will still have more cases of COVID-19. There’s no way we can avoid that. It may take several more weeks or months until we can see a decrease in new cases.

Meanwhile, at the hospital and clinics, we have been treating every patient that presents with flu-like symptoms as if they have COVID-19. Its stealthy spread makes that mandatory for us. This is where we are using our masks and gowns, keeping our health care people safe and functioning. Our usage of protective equipment is much higher than usual and our normal stores have been reduced. No more can be ordered. We can’t predict when this will end. Because “we’re not there yet.”

At home, we are bored. We are lonely. We have learned to play dominoes and burned up Netflix. We have tried the “Quaran-tini” and failed the ab workouts. Still, we are doing a great job staying the course and it shows. We are slowing the spread of the disease between our families, friends and neighbors.

I cannot begin to convey how grateful I am for the help and support of the community. You have made masks, which we are wearing. You honk and wave when we are in the snow taking vitals at the Flu Clinic. It keeps us going while we wait for COVID-19 to show itself, while praying that it doesn’t …

Stay strong, Hi-Line. Wash your hands. Stay home. Hug your family. You got this.


Dr. Karrie Lien

Family Medicine

Northern Montana Health Care


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