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The governors of state’s on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic have been complaining their citizens are ignoring orders to shelter in place. We here in Montana aren’t in lockdown. But we have been strongly urged by state and local leaders to minimize moving about and socially distance ourselves from each other.

And, like in the states under lockdown, there are those here who either haven’t gotten the message or have just decided they aren’t going to do what they’re being asked to do.

Take a drive around town during mild weather day and you see some people gathering in parks, playing pick-up basketball or joining in other activities that put them in close proximity with others. Playing pick-up basketball is not socially distancing oneself from others. That kind of close activity is an open invitation for the coronavirus to spread.

Some people, particularly young people, feel the pandemic doesn’t pose a significant threat. They’re willing to risk infection – even hope for it in some cases – and then recover and enjoy immunity to the virus.

We get it. But know this: While you are cavalierly inviting infection and then engaging in unchecked behavior, you are spreading the virus rapidly. And as it spreads, the virus threatens those who are vulnerable to severe illness and possibly death.

Understand what infectious disease experts are saying. Allow this virus to spread unchecked and we will soon find ourselves in the situation Italy is in today. Only because of the fivefold greater population here in the U.S., we could be looking at multiple thousands of deaths per day. The death toll, they tell us, could easily top one or two million Americans before the pandemic runs its course.

Let that sink in.

You may not be too concerned about your own risk, but do you want to contribute to the deaths of one or more millions of Americans?

Going outside is OK. But we must minimize our contact with others if we want to tamp down the impacts of this virus. Doing so is an inconvenience and a challenge. And staying away from work is an extreme financial burden for some and an existential threat to many small businesses. But at the end of the day, the alternative could be much worse.

Let’s heed the warnings. Minimize travel and keep our distance from each other. This won’t last forever.

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