This week, Ravalli County joins the rest of Montana with a gradual re-opening of the state. As of May 4th, restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos are allowed to reopen. However, Public Health Officer Dr. Carol Calderwood of the COVID-19 Incident Management Team said it is up to individuals to take the safety precautions seriously. The state is still requiring 6-foot separation distancing and no gathering of over 10 people. There should be reduced capacity inside the eating and drinking establishments, and businesses must close by 11:30 p.m. Those coming into the state from out-of-state need to self-quarantine for 14 days and notify their county's public health department. The Ravalli County health officials are being asked about event planning and have received advance plans for some of them. Calderwood said the team is not making individual recommendations, but is informing the organizers of the current state restrictions. Full details of the Governor's Phase One plans are at the Ravalli County website.

The Incident Management Team has again reported no new COVID-19 cases in the county and is planning only a few more meetings before turning the COVID-19 response back to the Public Health Department. However, it will be ready to start up again if there is a spike in positive tests or if Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital reaches capacity. Again, if you are over age 65, or have health issues, stay home. Have someone else do your shopping. And, even though wearing facemasks has not been popular in Ravalli County, please wear them, especially in crowds and closed-in locations. Continue to wash your hands frequently. The virus is still around. The Emergency Operations Center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 375-6650.