Social distancing is the physical separation of people in an effort to prevent the spread of disease in a community. It has been shown that social distancing in the early stages of an outbreak is effective in preventing or slowing the spread of communicable disease.
While it may be tempting to treat school and work closures as a well-needed vacation, it is extremely important for Richland County residents to respect social distancing recommendations, and stay home as much as possible during this time.
This means that families should limit activities outside the home, except to get medical care if necessary. Food and other necessary items can be picked up during this time, though families should avoid visiting in close contact in public. Families should refrain from visiting with elderly relatives and friends, and those who have compromised immune systems, or suffer from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
Gallatin County recently confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 obtained through community spread. This means that a positive case was in close contact with another community member, and spread the disease.
Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley urged residents to respect social distancing recommendations to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Complacency will cause us to make small decisions that may seem trivial, decisions to not wash your hands or to go socialize with friends,” Kelley said. “Decisions that will allow this virus to spread silently. Complacency will speed this pandemic along, upend our healthcare system and cause preventable new cases and deaths.
“Now is the time to pay attention and take this seriously,” Kelley continued. “Now is the time for each of us to take personal responsibility not just for ourselves, but for our fellow humans.”
Families should continue to take the standard precautions to protect themselves and others from getting sick, including staying home, avoiding handshakes and other close contact, washing hands frequently, and cleaning and sanitizing frequently-touch surfaces.
During school and work closures, monitor yourself and your children for symptoms of illness. If you develop a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a provider, call the Sidney Health Center Walk-In Clinic at 406-488-3963.
If you have questions about the coronavirus, call the Richland County Health Department’s Information Line at 406-433-6947.
You may access important links on the Health Department’s coronavirus webpage at www.richland.org/rchd.
Stephanie Ler is the Richland County Health Department public information officer