HAMILTON — Ravalli County won't implement a local mask order to replace the state's mask mandate that expired last week but county commissioners are still urging people to be cautious and continue taking care of each other.
Ravalli County leaders are making it clear the county won't be requiring people to wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, saying Bitterroot businesses and residents have the "luxury of choice" because overall, people have been responsible.
“I think our citizens have been responsible and I think they deserve the credit for the situation we're in right now with this," Commissioner Jeff Burrows said. "We're in really good shape as far as we didn't see the medical community overrun. We didn't see as a huge spike in COVID cases and you know, I think our citizens deserve the credit for that.”
The county will continue to advocate mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing but says people have the choice for "responsibility and accountability to each other." That means respecting individuals and businesses in how they chose to manage their operations safely.
Burrows says while some younger residents may not have followed mask recommendations as closely, they've often been more cautious around the elderly.
“They were maybe a little more liberal with the masks and the guidelines. And then we saw the people that that did have Grandma and Grandpa at home or were visiting them or helping them get groceries. You know they were masking up," Burrows said.
"So I think our community understood their own situations. They did a good job and they worked with public health and I think public health did a good job of keeping track of people and quarantining and isolation protocols," he continued. "And we never had to go to the mandates locally, which I think was a good thing.”
Burrows had expressed a lot of frustration last year with former Governor Bullock's changing requirements, especially when it came to business. Now, he's hopeful caution will keep that confusion from returning…
“Really frustrating to see people's businesses and livelihoods kind of go down the drain because of arbitrary regulations, so, it seems like we're back on track now," Burrows told MTN News. "Numbers are coming down. We obviously don't want to see a free for all where we get a spike in COVID where there may have to be some regulations implemented.”
Ravalli County is continuing to post the latest COVID information, including vaccinations, on its website.