"Relying on personal responsibility to follow public health guidance" during a pandemic. Montana may be screwed. Every patron of the Quickie Mart this morning was mask-less.

Except for me and the clerk. I stopped in for some lottery tickets and the store was busier than normal with 6 other (male) customers in various stages of shopping. This was not one group of like-minded friends...the group left the store and drove away in 3 different vehicles.

It even crossed my mind to go back out and wait in my car for a few minutes until it cleared out a bit. (A bit much? Maybe. But avoiding 'crowds' is super easy and I was in no hurry.)

Not one mask on any of these guys. Montana's new governor, Greg Gianforte, was sworn in YESTERDAY. I have zero interest in arguing politics here, but I do take issue with ignoring best health practices at a time like this.

Since winning the election, he has indicated that instead of mandating the wearing of masks in public places, he'd have Montana rely on personal responsibility to follow public health guidelines. We don't even have proper wording on what the new guidelines are, but for many Montanans...masks are out the window.

Montana's official state website sites the current CDC guidelines:

The CDC states that cloth masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control.

But Montana knows better, apparently. I HATE wearing a mask and social distancing. I DESPISE being told what to do and how to live my life. But these are not normal circumstances. By not wearing a mask, we're not doing everything we can to get COVID-19 under control and take pressure off our local health care system.

It's going to be months longer until the general population has easy access to one of the vaccines. There's no reason to live your life in fear, but I do see a reason to be as HELPFUL as possible when it comes to the health of our community.

I fear that if this morning is any indication of Montana's new 'mask norm', it's going to be a very long, unpleasant winter here.


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