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People are getting complacent. Locally, we’re seeing fewer protective masks. Social distancing practices are become more and more lax. We are likely to pay a price for that – more coronavirus infections and possibly more death.

Now is not the time to let down our guard. The most vulnerable among us – the elderly and those with underlying conditions – should continue to isolate themselves. Face masks, 6 feet of space between us and regular thorough handwashing should continue to be the norm. Epidemiologists tell us the virus will be with us for a long time and subsequent waves of infection are inevitable. And if history tells us anything, it’s that subsequent waves of infection could be far more devastating than the first.

Consider this: Two of the most recent coronavirus cases detected in Gallatin County were in the same family and had recently traveled outside of Montana where they apparently contracted the virus. As we begin to relax lockdown orders in this state and elsewhere, more and more people will be traveling out of state or coming to Montana from elsewhere. As that happens the likelihood of new infections is going to increase.

We have been very fortunate in that Montana is the least infected state per capita in the nation. And as the third most sparsely populated state, the potential for a real “hot spot” of virus infection seems low. Those factors are likely contributing to the increasing complacency toward the disease. But the lack of the virus in our population also means there is likely a low level of immunity here. So if – or more likely when – the virus flares up again, much of the state’s population could be fertile ground for infection.

And remember, even though you may not feel threatened by the disease because you’re young and healthy, the preventative measures you take are not just for you. They’re for those who are vulnerable and who you might infect.

We are likely months away from a vaccine for the coronavirus. But if we continue our vigilance at preventing the spread of the disease, we could keep its impacts minimal until we do have that vaccine.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.