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Our View: Thanks for keeping spread of COVID-19 down - and keep it up


Last updated 8/7/2020 at Noon

Despite the incredibly sad news that Hill County now has experienced its first COVID-19-related deaths, and despite the fact that counties in the area are still having new confirmations of cases of COVID-19 trickling in, The Havre Daily News wants to thank and congratulate local residents for successfully slowing the spread of the disease — and remind them we have to keep it up.

Government and health officials can’t slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Only the local residents can do that by following their recommendations.

By the end of June, Blaine, Chouteau, Hill and Liberty counties only had two confirmed cases, one in Liberty County and one in Hill County, both confirmed in March. 

No new cases were confirmed in April, May or June.

Then, starting July 4, a comparative explosion of new cases happened in Blaine, Chouteau and Hill counties.

As of this morning, Liberty County still had one case, with no new cases since March. A special thanks and congratulations to the residents of that county for not spreading the virus.

Blaine, Hill and Chouteau counties added 55 new cases from July 4 to July 31 — a 5,500 percent increase to 56 cases, statistically.

July 31, Hill County had 43 cases, Blaine County had seven and Chouteau County had six.

Three of the Hill County cases later were moved to be listed in Chouteau County, due to an earlier reporting error.

The number of new cases had slowed to a trickle by the end of the month, and has remained relatively slow this week.

As of the 10 a.m. update this morning, the state COVID-19 tracking map listed 42 cases for Hill County, 10 for Blaine and eight for Chouteau County.

The rapid increase then its slowing down seems to show people in this region let their guard down in June, probably lulled into a false sense of security by the lack of new cases and the governor starting a phased re-opening of the state — then started again taking precautions.

The beginning of July, if someone went into a store they likely would have seen a half-dozen or fewer people wearing masks, with the vast majority maskless. They likely could have seen people standing next to each other, not wearing masks or with a masks pulled down below their chins, visiting. They likely would have seen people standing right next to each other in checkout lines.

Since the number of cases shot up, and the governor issued a directive telling people in counties with four or more active cases to wear a mask — and recommending people wear masks regardless of the numbers — most people out in public have been following the recommendations. And the numbers have dropped.

But the fact the case numbers have dropped doesn’t mean people can let down their guard. The virus is still out there, and it is still here. The first deaths in the region just reinforces that people have to take precautions, wear masks when out in public places with other people not from their homes, try to stay at least six feet away from people not from their homes, regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, clean and disinfect regularly touched items and to not go out if they don’t have to.

Tests indicate the virus can be transmitted by people who don’t show symptoms. Your neighbor might have the virus. Someone you see in the store might have the virus. You might have the virus.

Health organizations say some people — the very young and people who have trouble breathing, as well as people who are unconscious — should not wear a mask. But people who should not wear a mask probably should not be going out into public places. 

Many businesses and restaurants are offering curbside delivery so people don’t have to go into the stores or restaurants to make a purchase, and some are offering home delivery. People who can’t wear a mask — or who are at high risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19 — should take advantage of that.

Remember, government directives and recommendations can’t stop the spread of the virus. Only you following those recommendations can stop its spread.


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