Health officials urge public to take social distancing seriously

Posted at 4:02 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 19:35:13-04

HELENA — Lewis and Clark Public Health are strongly encouraging people to take social distancing guidelines seriously in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Many of our public health advocates are reaching out to us regularly about seeing members of the Helena community not heeding these cautions,” said Health Officer Drenda Niemann of Lewis and Clark Public Health.

Some current guidelines from the State of Montana include: people not gathering in groups of 10 or more, staying 6 feet away from others, and working from home where possible, reducing unnecessary public interactions and communicating with friends and family by phone or a video service.

As of Mar. 25, 2020, the United States has had more than 700 people die from the COVID-19 virus so far.

Montana has yet to have a reported COVID-19 fatality, but the state did see around a 25 percent increase in COVID-19 cases from Monday Mar. 23 to Tuesday Mar. 24.

Niemann recognizes that it can be difficult to incorporate social distancing into our lives, but it’s necessary to protect those who are most at risk with this disease.

At this time, social distancing is our primary tool towards fighting this virus.

“We don’t have a vaccination for this virus, we don’t have a treatment for this virus,” explained Niemann. “So all we have are some of these social controls, and now it comes down to individuals making the choices to help us by choosing to social distance.”

Social distancing can be hard on a person's mental health. People are encouraged to take steps to stay mentally healthy, like going for a walk, journaling and staying in touch with others.

Niemann also wanted to acknowledge and thank all the businesses and organizations that have taken social distancing steps; such as moving to curbside or delivery service or offering senior reserved shopping times.