HAMILTON — Ravalli County is ramping up its planning for the COVID-19 outbreak, but leaders are also urging residents to remain calm and follow the facts.
While Ravalli County isn't seeing the evidence of coronavirus that's cropped up in the larger counties, it's certainly on everyone's mind. The rumors are running faster than the virus for some in the Bitterroot, so county leaders are using the same joint-management approach you'd see during fire season.
The county decided to implement the Incident Command System to not only pull agencies together but also to improve communication.
"Especially amongst the different agencies and the hospital in Ravalli County,” Ravalli County Commissioner and incident commander Jeff Burrows said.
“So, with the Incident Management Team, we've found that we can streamline information. We can get fast and accurate information out to the public,” he added.
The advice? The same as elsewhere. Wash your hands, keep your distance, and report worsening symptoms.
"We're recommending that you stay home and recover at home unless you start getting those severe symptoms that you then need medical attention,” Burrows told MTN News.
“Because our hospitals are at capacity and inundating them and emergency services right nowise what we're trying to avoid. We're trying to save those services for the people who really need it."
The Ravalli County Courthouse and other public facilities are being cleaned often, with the county stressing there are no business closures.
"At this point in Ravalli County, we're not implementing mandatory closures of businesses. We're evaluating that and that's another reason to have this incident management team, is to evaluate the new information as comes in,” Burrows said. “But at this point, we don't feel that those mandatory closures are necessary."
Like wildfire season, neighbors watching out for one another is key, “as long as we can stay calm and look out for your neighbor, we'll get through it,” Burrows said.
He also told MTN News that the county wants to make sure that the public sticks to factual information and says the county will continue to release all the details that are available as this outbreak continues.