By Raquel Williams
Carter County Public Health Nurse 

COVID-19 updates


April 10, 2020

Social media movement "A World of Hearts," meant to bring joy and encouragement across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to hundreds of thousands of windows being decorated in a united front. Several local businesses and offices have taken part in the movement, hoping to offer a little ray of sunshine to passersby who notice. The window at Southeast Electric is shown above.

As of Tuesday morning, there were ZERO reported COVID-19 cases in Carter County. In fact, there is only one case east of Billings at this time, which is in Roosevelt County. However, to keep COVID-19 out of Carter County, we need to continue to be disciplined and not get complacent. Please continue to promote and sustain the recommendations and restrictions of the local, state and federal public health departments.

Public health asks all citizens to continue to follow social distancing, which means to stay at least six feet away from persons not living in your home. Practice good hygiene by avoiding physical contact with others, sanitize or wash your hands frequently when out, create a habit to avoid touching your face, cover your coughs or sneezes, disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly and increase ventilation in your home by opening windows. Do not share drinks or utensils with others. Above all, stay home and isolate yourself in your room if you are sick!

Governor Bullock's executive orders are set to expire on April 10. However, I suspect that the date will be extended at least another two weeks. There have been numerous executive orders that have been established by the Governor. Some that directly affect people in our area are the executive orders to stay at home, that of essential businesses, and for travelers. However, this does not mean you cannot leave your home or the county.

Citizens can leave their homes for essential travel and to perform essential activities. We all know that living in rural Montana, we have to travel to obtain some essential services and items. Agriculture is an essential business, and there are times when you may have to go out of town to get parts, buy cattle or get seed. Getting diapers, baby formula, groceries or items for your household are also essential needs. Of course, you can travel out of town for essential needs, but be cautious and follow the social distancing and hygiene recommendations.

There is also another executive order for people returning to Carter County after traveling. Governor Bullock created an executive order which mandates that any person coming to Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. Carter County Public Health has gone a step further and is asking any person returning to Carter County after being in an area of widespread COVID-19 for an extended time to self-quarantine in their home for 14 days, which includes some counties in Montana.

Self-quarantine means staying home and not going to meetings, church services or group events. You shouldn't go shopping or have visitors in your home. You should avoid close contact with others, including those who live in your household that didn't travel with you. Avoid sharing dishes, towels, pillows or other items in your home. You can go out for a walk or go to the post office after hours, but be sure to avoid contact with others and sanitize your hands frequently.

During this time of uncertainty and new rules, it is essential to practice self-care. Self-care means something different for everyone, but some things everyone should practice are to get regular exercise, eat healthy foods, get rest, go outside and get sunshine, visit with family and friends via phone or video chat, and practice a loved hobby or take up a new one.

I realize this is a scary time, and not to frighten you more, but as a nurse, this virus terrifies me. No one has any immunity to it. Even though those over 65 years old, the immunocompromised and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk of developing severe complications that lead to death. This virus affects EVERYONE! In my research, I have read statements that indicate children 0-14 years old are not severely affected. However, that leaves a lot of people who are! In reality, anyone can get this virus and get critically ill! A person who has no underlying health conditions may be more likely to survive COVID-19, but could still become severely ill and have to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Billings or Rapid City. This is the reason public health officials have put restrictions in place; to protect EVERYONE in Carter County!

Please call Carter County Public Health at 406-775-6332 for any questions about restrictions or COVID-19.

Note: On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Bullock extended directives issued to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through April 24. Additionally, the Richland County Health Department was notified by the Montana State Public Health Laboratory of a positive case of COVID-19 in an individual residing in Richland County on Tuesday. There have now been four reported cases in the state east of Billings. As of Wednesday morning, there were 332 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montana.


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