By Tim Leeds 

What is wrong with people?


Last updated 10/5/2020 at 10:50am

What is wrong with people?

In one day this weekend, the state saw almost as many cases of COVID-19 confirmed as it saw in the first three months of its delclared medical emergency.

Montana had its first cases of COVID-19 confirmed March 14 and its first COVID-19-related death March 26.

By June 1, two-and-a-half months later, Montana had 519 confirmed cases, 17 COVID-19-related deaths and two hospitalizations at the time due to the disease.

Sunday, the state had 14,635 confirmed cases, 4,851 active, 191 hospitalizations and 187 deaths.

By the state’s report Saturday morning, Montana had 501 new cases confirmed Friday, in one day, almost as many as from March through May.

By April 1, Blaine, Hill, Chouteau and Liberty counties had two cases, one in Hill and one in Liberty, both confirmed in March. No new cases were reported in this region from April 1 through July 3.

Then the local cases started to hit July 4.

By numbers reported Sunday, Hill County now has 237 cases, Blaine has 77, Chouteau has 36 and Liberty has 20.

For Hill County, that is an increase from Saturday, Sept. 26, through Sunday, Oct 4 — nine days — of 92 cases. 

It is 56 new cases in Blaine County from Sept. 26 through Oct. 4, eight for Chouteau County and two for Liberty County.

And people are dying. By Sunday, more than a million people have died worldwide, with nearly 210,000 — more than any other country — in the U.S.

And people are dying in Montana —187 by Sunday’s report. Three people have died in Hill County.

People following recommendations likely won’t stop the spread of the disease, but maybe it will slow it, closer to what it was in the first three months of Montana’s emergency.

The recommendations follow medicine, research, science, logic and common sense.

The people refusing to follow the recommendations aren’t following any of those.

The virus is spread by, carried by, moisture in people’s breath. It doesn’t just jump from one person to another. The virus is spread when people carrying it cough, sneeze, sing, talk or even breathe.

If people avoid being around anyone with the virus, or touching surfaces or items on which the virus has been spread, they won’t be infected.

But most people can’t spend all their time at home.

If they go out, people should try to avoid getting within 6 feet of others, and they should regularly clean and sanitize surfaces that may be exposed to the virus; they should avoid touching their face to prevent introducing it to their eyes, nose or mouth, and should regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

And, to reduce the chance of exposing other people to the virus if they unknowingly carry it, people should wear masks.

Since the virus is carried by breath moisture and wearing a mask reduces the amount of moisture expelled, wearing a mask reduces transmission of the virus.

The White House has sent inconsistent messages, with President Donald Trump alternating between comments on how people need to reduce the spread of the virus and comments that it was not a huge problem, his administration had dealt with it, the danger was about to disappear — although he told Bob Woodward, in interviews from February on through later months, that it was incredibly dangerous and he was terribly concerned.

Many have reported that people in the White House, including Trump, have regularly ignored recommendations on reducing the spread of the virus. 

Trump has in recent weeks held numerous events at the White House and elsewhere with large numbers of people standing side-by-side with many or most — including Trump — not wearing masks.

President Donald Trump now has COVID-19.

Some people have been reported to say prevention measures don’t work — they have family or friends who wore masks, tried to social distance, and became ill or even died.

They are missing the point. Social distancing is an effort to reduce the chance of spreading the illness, both by people who are infected and for people trying to avoid the disease, but mask-wearing is not to reduce the chance of catching COVID-19.

Studies now are showing that wearing a mask might reduce the chance of acquiring the virus, but people exposed to the virus are not just exposed where the mask covers, their mouth and nose. The virus can be picked up on the rest of their bodies, on their clothes, on their hands, on items they are carrying. The virus picked up there can easily be brought to their eyes, nose, mouth and into their body.

Wearing a mask reduces the chance of giving the disease to others.

People may say members of their family or friends or acquaintances have died when they wore masks, but maybe if someone who had the virus had worn a mask they still would be alive.

I truly hope that the people who refuse to wear masks, who refuse to socially distance, who refuse to avoid large gatherings, who refuse to not go out when they don’t need to, don’t die or cause members of their family, their friends, or even people they don’t know, to become ill or die.

It is up to them.


Tim Leeds is the managing editor of The Havre Daily News.


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