Now that Montana has entered Phase 1 of re-opening, the Gallatin County/City Health Department will be carefully watching COVID-19 numbers of all kinds to determine if Gallatin County is on the right path.

City Commissioner, Terry Cunningham, shares with us some thoughts about entering this new phase. Thanks, Terry!

Keep in mind that per the re-opening documents released last week by the Governor, local governments can impose stricter rules than the state, if they deem it necessary.

FAQ: Q: What metrics will the Health Department be watching to see how the re-opening is progressing? A: The Gallatin County Health Officer mentioned that they will be monitoring the following metrics: # of new confirmed cases, # of hospitalizations, # of deaths, whether there are adequate testing supplies and capabilities to handle any spike in cases, the % of positive tests, and the ability of the Health Department to stay on top of contact tracing for new cases.

Pulling Together: Even though the door is partially open, it doesn’t mean you have to charge through it. Businesses, houses of worship and non-profits are being thoughtful about whether it’s prudent to open when the Governor’s Directive allows them to.

Several local restaurants have decided to stick with pick-up and delivery as opposed to moving to dine-in services until they can assure themselves – and their customers – that their establishment can provide a safe atmosphere for employees and customers alike.

Some personal care businesses have opted to wait a bit longer to decide whether it’s wise to open.

This thoughtful, measured approach is proof positive that we’re all in this together. Each of us will have to make the decision for ourselves as to what level of contact we’re comfortable with, and we shouldn’t rush those decisions.

What Can I Do? Recognize that we’re in the middle of a unique time in world history. Very few times in modern history have we been asked to avoid other human beings, stay at home, shutter most businesses, isolate our seniors, focus intently on hygiene, and cancel all group gatherings.

This isn’t normal. This is dire. And, most importantly, at the moment, we don’t know how this story ends. By recognizing and respecting the gravity of the situation, we can make personal decisions that reflect, and even honor the unusual times we’re living through.

Continuing to physically distance from others is more than an inconvenience, it’s a necessity. Again, we’re collectively writing this story together, and we need to recognize that we’re nowhere near wrapping this story with a neat bow. Stay the course.