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Group spreading mask awareness at local businesses


Last updated 12/15/2020 at 12:31pm

Havre Daily News/Kimberly Bolta

Bearly Square Quilting employee Taylor Donaldson, left, and Susan Somers hang a sign reading "Mask up Havre" on the door to the quilting shop Monday morning. Somers has been hanging the signs in local businesses for the past few days to try to encourage Havre patrons to stop the spread of COVID-19 and instead spread Christmas cheer.

A group of local residents is trying to raise awareness of the need to mask up during the holidays - and after.

Will Rawn, Susan Somers and Marilee Russell are making an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 by hanging signs around town encouraging citizens to wear protective face masks.

The posters created by the group were designed to encourage those who "defiantly refuse to wear masks," Rawn said, which is still prevalent in the community.

The medical community has said people wearing masks reduces the transmission of the virus that spreads the disease by reducing the amount of moisture, which carries the virus, expelled when people breathe, talk, cough or sneeze.

Marilee Russell is no stranger to the coronavirus. She said her daughter Cecilia is a nurse in Shelby and has contracted the virus twice. Her daughter not only struggled with the virus, but lost work due to COVID-19, Russell said. Despite acquiring the virus twice she is now back at work and still helping those with the virus.

"She told me, and I believe her, that it is really important that we do all that we can and assume when we go out that whoever we meet may have it and we may have it," Russell said. " Because it is a silent killer."

The group came together after they saw people were against wearing masks, putting others and themselves at risk and decided on the sign campaign.

"There's a crisis going on here, it would sure help if more people in the local community would put a mask on anytime they go indoors amongst other human beings, among other behaviors that would be helpful," Rawn said.

Rawn said he has been fortunate that he has not had any close family or friends contract COVID-19, but feels that slowing the spread and protecting people is important.

Russell said she believes that the community should come together and look after each other. She knows it's serious because personal experience tends to make people a believer. The signs aren't meant to be confrontational, but to raise awareness about how important mask wearing is during the pandemic.

Havre Daily News/Kimberly Bolta

Susan Somers, left, and Bearly Square Quilting employee Taylor Donaldson hold a sign in front of Bearly Square asking people to mask up before mounting the sign on the door to the business.

"We talked it over, and we thought, 'How can we convince people?'" Russell said. "So we decided that Christmas was a good time to think about others. So we made this poster, and came up with several ideas for the poster ... and it says, 'Ho Ho Ho. Spread Christmas cheer not COVID. Mask up Havre.'"

Rawn has talked to people about placing their message on a billboard if it is financially feasible.

He said he has been talking to people since mid-summer about doing other things to promote mask wearing and the group gave out free masks, but after the governor's mandate went into effect, most people found masks. Despite this, people still refused to wear masks and the group finally settled on hanging signs at such places at Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods and the public library.

They have started to hang more signs at businesses that are agreeable.

"I think there are a lot of things that still might be done," Rawn said. "The message is simple, If anyone else, if someone's got a business and would like to get a sign contact Marilee Russell at 406-439-2414, she has the signs and we want to get them out there."


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