HAMILTON — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases remains at five and while it might seem like the Bitterroot is emerging as a calm in the eye of the pandemic storm, local health officials say it's not a time to let up on precautions -- especially the advisory to wear masks when out in public places.
Ravalli County continues to be an "in between" community when it comes to the pandemic. There aren't the large outbreaks of Missoula or Flathead counties, with five reported cases -- of which three people have recovered and two remain in isolation.
But because of its population -- and especially proximity to Missoula for shopping and family -- health officials remain concerned about community spread.
Ravalli County Incident Commander Dr. Carol Calderwood says it's critical for Bitterroot residents to be vigilant, and especially to use precautions like face masks when out in public, something that most people have been reluctant to do.
"It's just different for out society. We're not used to it. And every step I think took a little bit of time. But this one seems to be more of a hurdle because personally when I go in the grocery store I don't see many people wearing the face cover. And it's super important and it isn't the time to let up."
Dr. Calderwood also encourages grocery stores and other businesses to encourage their employees to wear masks indoors, not just shoppers.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article noted that two people were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 in Ravalli County. That information was incorrect. Two people remain in oisolation in Ravalli County. We apologize for this error.